Construction company fails to complete back payments to exploited workers

by John Maguire17 Jun 2016
A manufacturing firm is allegedly refusing to back pay Chinese and Filipino staff that were found to have been exploited by the business with wages as low as $4 per hour.

A Taiwanese company, Chia Tung Development Corp, employed 43 temporary visa holders two years ago to work as welders, metal fabricators and electricians across regional New South Wales, setting up animal feed mills. Workers were forced to work six days a week for 9-11 hours per day, and endured overcrowded accommodation.
After an investigation the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) ordered the company to pay the exploited workers a total of $870,000, but a new case has been launched against Chia Tung and its director Michael Chen-Fa Lin. Federal Court documents show that the company has not complied with paying a total of $62,000 in wages and entitlements to two Filipino employees.

Workers were paid in a convoluted way: their monthly wage was set in US dollars, then converted to Filipino pesos, ultimately resulting to a rate of just $4.90 per hour. The FWO claims the firm did not pay minimum rates, overtime or weekend or public holiday penalty rates.
Michael Campbell, deputy Fair Work Ombudsman, was not impressed by the company’s alleged failure to pay the $62,000 to the two workers.

Reflecting on his experience of working with Chia Tung, last year 43-year-old Filipino construction worker Edwin de Castro gave a sobering indication of conditions working with the company on a project in Narrabri.

“We are underpaid working with them,” De Castro said in March 2015. “We are expecting to receive $27 per hour a week but what we received is only $7 or $10 per hour.

"The working condition and also the accommodation, we are staying on the site. We are six persons in one bedroom.

"The other is staying in a shipping container while they are deducting $250 a week per person for our accommodation."



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