A State Government inquiry will hold a one-day public hearing in Mackay on Wednesday.
A State Government inquiry will hold a one-day public hearing in Mackay on Wednesday. Warwick Daily News

'Bosses who steal from workers need to be punished'

UNSCRUPULOUS employers who underpay staff should face stiffer court penalties and punishment, a Mackay union boss has said.

It comes as Mackay workers who have been ripped off by their bosses are asked to tell their stories at a government hearing into wage theft to be held tomorrow.

Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union state official Jason Lund said any legislation made around wage theft needs to be enforceable.

"There is no enforceability in terms of the process," he said.

"Just like there is for breaching the Workplace Health and Safety Act... there should be the same process for wage theft, because if people are seen to get fined for it, more people will stop doing it.

"Stealing is an enforceable offence, and wage theft is stealing... saying sorry and repaying the money just doesn't cut the mustard."

The State Government announced in May that it had launched an inquiry into the issue of wage theft.

Wage theft includes underpayment, unpaid super, unpaid penalty rates, authorised deductions from payment, unpaid work trials, the misuse of ABNs and sham contracting.

Member for Mackay Julieanne Gilbert said all Mackay employees should expect to be paid correctly for a fair day's work.

"Unfortunately, this isn't always the case, with wage theft stories popping up more and more each day," she said.

"We want to shine a light on what is happening, why it is happening, and what we need to do about it - whether at a state level, or at a federal level where much of the responsibility lies.

"It's important we put an end to this deceitful practice... to deny workers their proper entitlements."

A public hearing will be held at Rydges Grand Suites on Gregory St from 1pm to 4pm on Wednesday.

A representative from the Bowen Gumlu Growers Association is expected to speak.

The parliamentary committee spearheading the inquiry is expected to hand its report to the government by November 16.



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