Fair Work Ombudsman investigates worker exploitation at the MCG

by Victoria Bruce13 Jan 2016
The Fair Work Ombudsman is continuing to crack down on underpayments after commencing an investigation into claims cleaning giant ISS was involved in a worker exploitation scandal.

ISS and First Group, the subcontractor that directly employed the underpaid workers, have both come under the spotlight of the workplace watchdog for reportedly ripping off migrant and international students employed to clean the MCG after sports events.

It is alleged that cleaners from India, the Philippines, Columbia and Brazil were paid as low as $18 an hour and were denied casual loading and penalty rates, even though most of their work was at night, on weekends and public holidays – times that attract penalty rates and entitled them to $46 an hour for some shifts.

A former First Group employee told Fairfax Media the cleaning company actively recruit international students and migrant workers, many of whom were not aware of their workplace rights.

Court documents claim individual underpayments range from $276 to $7272 and Fair Work inspectors found 11 cleaners at the MCG had been allegedly ripped off more than $37,000 during 2014 football season.

The workplace watchdog has accused ISS of being explicitly aware of First Group’s exploitative practices, but failing to take action. It is also alleged the cleaning giant knew the subcontract price it paid First Group was insufficient for the company to pay its workers minimum legal entitlements. 

The Fair Work Ombudsman has launched proceedings in the Federal Circuit Court against the two companies and several executives, including three Victorian managers of ISS.


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