19 January 2019: A company has been fined $300,025 for exploiting three international students and a working holiday maker – all from China.
Greed of the disgraced company owners was such that they made the students to pay back part of their salary which left the victims with as little as $8.53 per hour.
The three young students worked at a 7-Eleven franchise on Melbourne’s William Street while the fourth Chinese citizen, in Australia on a 462 working holiday visa, worked at an Ajisen Ramen franchise in Melbourne CBD.
The offending company got its employees “to repay part of their wages in an unlawful cashback scheme”, Fair Work said in a press release on Friday.
Th Federal Circuit Court penalised the company $154,225 for exploiting the three international students while $145,800 was fined for underpaying the foreign worker at the Japanese restaurant.
According to Fair Work Ombudsman, the Chinese students exploited at the shop were aged between 21 and 24.
It appears the owner of the franchise had come up with a cunning way of underpaying the students following the severe media scrutiny in 2015 when exploitation of international students at some 7-Eleven outlets made national headlines.
“After returning this portion of their wages, the employees were left with hourly rates ranging from $8.53 to $26.52, leading to various underpayments of their ordinary hourly rates, casual loading, and weekend and public holiday penalty rate entitlements,” Fair Work said in the press release.
The three students were underpaid a total of $6,674 between November 2015 and October 2016 but they were back-paid in August 2017. Similarly, the working holiday maker was underpaid $9,616 between May and October 2016.
She was paid only $11.50 per hour – far below the minimum hourly rate.
The exploitation was so severe and callous that her salary in her final week was only $3.98 per hour.