WHEN: 8 am Thursday 11 March 2021
WHERE: Outside Victoria’s Parliament House
WHAT: The Senate Economics Committee hearing on the Unlawful underpayment of employee remuneration inquiry. Workers and Victorian leaders speak out on the IR Omnibus Bill wage theft component that will undermine and weaken wage theft laws in Victoria, as well as Queensland.
WHO: United Workers Union members Jules Gibson, Mohammed Abdillahi and Trent Whitehand-Willick will be sharing their stories of wage theft and how the IR Omnibus Bill threatens to strip away state protections. They will be joined by ACTU President Michele O’Neil, VTHC Assistant Secretary Carina Garland and Victorian Senator Jess Walsh.
Attributable to Jules Gibson, Hospo Voice member, the hospitality arm of the United Workers Union:
“I’ve worked 16 years in the hospitality industry. I went to one of the best restaurants in town owned by an illustrious “celebrity chef” – there I was taught the industry standard; 12-hour unpaid trial shifts, timesheets frowned upon, unpaid overtime, super never paid correctly if at all, no breaks, no penalties, and rostering that impinges on workplace safety. When Victoria introduced legislation criminalising wage theft, I cried. Finally, workers were going to have something solid and strong that couldn’t be manipulated or be met with wilful ignorance and poor excuses. We had hope. But now, along comes this Bill and I’m sick to my stomach. We’ve suffered gaslighting, wage stagnation and exploitation and now you want to put forward a Bill that further entrenches these abuses.”
Attributable to Michele O’Neil, ACTU President:
“Workers deserve a fast, efficient and non-costly way of recovering stolen wages. There also needs to be repercussions for employers who steal hard-earned wages from their workers. Wage theft has become a business model across so many sectors of the economy. It needs to be seriously addressed. We need wage growth for working people to pull us out of this recession. The Morrison Government’s IR Omnibus Bill will undermine important tough penalties for wage theft that have been won by workers and their unions in Victoria and Queensland. The last thing the Federal Government should be doing is weakening protections for workers when what is needed is more secure jobs and better wages.”
Attributable to Carina Garland, Assistant Secretary Victoria Trades Hall Council:
“We are here today to give evidence on why the IR Bill is a kick in the guts to Victorian workers. Workers are asking why is the government trying to ram through laws that will keep wages low and entrench insecure work? Victorian workers won’t risk strong state wage theft laws being undermined by weak Federal laws. Workers need real justice. Wage thieves must be held to account and pay workers their stolen wages. If you don’t pay your workers, you shouldn’t run a business.”
Attributable to Jess Walsh, Senator for Victoria:
“Scott Morrison and the Liberals are running a protection racket for unscrupulous employers in Victoria. The Government’s proposed legislation will wipe out Victoria’s stronger wage theft laws. Victorian workers fought hard for their own wage theft laws. They were sick of the rip offs and they decided to fight back. The Government’s legislation is just a massive kick in the guts for Victorian workers, and a free pass for employers who do the wrong thing. Under Christian Porter’s laws jail time for wage thieves in Victoria is reduced.The bar is set so high for workers that many will find it impossible to be able to even bring a case against an employer. If the IR laws pass Parliament, there is every chance that the next George Calombaris, Rockpool or Dinner by Heston will escape prosecution.”
NOTE: Everyone attending this event will be expected to adhere to social distancing guidelines.