By Ram Khatry
6 January 2018
A dodgy business owner in Sydney is using I will have you deported threat to abuse vulnerable international students from Nepal, a victim has revealed.
The victim said, on a strict request for anonymity, that the owner of the restaurant has not paid more than six young students who were already reeling under severe financial stress as they scramble to put together their tuition fees.
The treatment of the owner has left the Nepalese students completely heart-broken and out of pocket while the unscrupulous restaurateur continues to enjoy the fruit of their sweat and tear.
“Some of those young boys broke down right in front of me as they begged to be paid (from the owner),” the victim told southasia.com.au during a telephone conversation on Sunday. Speaking in Nepali language, the victim strongly requested not to be identified in any way or form for fear of losing around $3,000 the restaurant is still owing.
The victim claimed to have worked at the restaurant from around August until end of November without ever receiving regular pay.
“The only thing you can do is to come to (restaurant’s name) to ask for your money. You cannot do anything else. Do whatever you can,” the male owner of the restaurant apparently told the 32-year-old. “I have been paying you $50-$100 anyway,” the Nepalese cook quoted the restaurant owner as saying and added, “It was as if he was handing us alms of ten-twenty dollars.”
He also threatened the victim with “defamation” charges if details about him or his business were divulged to anyone.
“I am talking to you because I do not want this to happen to anyone else in the future,” the parent of two young children clarified.
The southasia.com.au is aware of the address, owner and current manager of the restaurant but is keeping these details confidential for legal reasons as well as to respect victim’s request for anonymity.
The cook worked 10-hour shift at the rate of $15 per hour without any leave, superannuation and other workplace entitlements as required by Australian laws. The victim would have been happy so long as the salary was paid on time and in full. “That’s the salary I am receiving now (from the current employer)” and the victim sounded completely okay with it as the current owner “treats well” and pays on time.
Other victims of the restaurant are not forthcoming for fear of losing their unpaid salaries. At least six students the victim personally knows are yet to receive their overdue salaries ranging anywhere from around $1500 to $5000, it is understood.
When asked how it felt to be treated this way by a fellow Nepalese in a country so far away from home, the victim said, “My body was on fire for four-five days because of the words and language he used!” Victim further added that there could not be any eye-contact with the partner for days on end after a recent confrontation with the restaurateur during which he was almost “physically threatening” while discussing due payments.
“I wanted to call police,” the victim said but the partner apparently forbade because of the same old reason – fear of deportation.
There is a high turn-over of staff at the restaurant, southasia.com.au understands, as young men and women leave the business every few months due to irregular payment.
There are increasing cases of similar mistreatment and abuse of international students from Nepal as they strive to find foothold in the country. Fair and straight Australian work rights such as overtime and holiday loading, superannuation, annual leave and sick leave are out of question as they toil away at roughly between $12 to $15 an hour with “cash in hand”.
The fear of deportation is the single most important reason why the abused students do not call on relevant authorities such as the police, court or the Fair Work Ombudsman.