Non-English speakers ripped off

A Unions NSW audit has found the hospitality industry is a particularly bad offender in advertising jobs to foreign workers for below award pay.
A Unions NSW audit has found the hospitality industry is a particularly bad offender in advertising jobs to foreign workers for below award pay. LUKAS COCH

KOREAN, Chinese and Spanish-speaking workers are routinely paid below minimum wage as part of a "seedy underbelly of wage theft”, Unions NSW claims.

An audit of 200 job ads in 2016 and 2017 - on Korean language website Hojunara, Chinese website Sydney Today and Spanish-language Facebook pages - found nearly 78% advertising below the minimum award wage.

They included a kitchen aid at a Korean restaurant in the Sydney suburb of Strathfield paying $13 an hour, a position advertised in Chinese for warehouse work in the suburb of Smithfield paying $16 an hour, and a position advertised in Spanish for a cleaner paying $15-$20 an hour.

"This is wage theft on a massive scale. And it's being perpetrated against people ill-equipped to fight back,” Unions NSW Secretary Mark Morey said in a statement.

"Often migrant workers are threatened or must consider how a complaint will affect their visa or residency status.”

The report said 100% of jobs advertised in Mandarin and Cantonese were below award.

Hospitality was the worst offender, with the average rate of pay advertised at $13.60 an hour, compared with the award rate of $18.29 an hour.

Unions NSW says it will use the report findings to push for greater right-of-entry powers at the upcoming NSW Labor conference.

"Our research finds that some employers believe they can offer a 'Korean', 'Chinese' or 'Spanish' rate of pay,” Mr Morey said. - Frank Chung

Topics:  cantonese foreign language foreign workers korean mandarin non-english speakers spanish

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