Court freezes restaurant’s $450,000 assets for alleged exploitation of Indian, Pakistani chefs

17 April 2019: The Federal Court of Australia has frozen assets of an Indian restaurant business and its owner worth nearly half a million dollars.

The Adithya Indian Restaurant in Nowra and Wollongong has had its assets frozen following claims by two of its former chefs, ABC reported today.




The restaurant has been in the news since last year when Midhun Basi, an Indian chef, produced timesheets that indicated he worked at least 70 hours a week but was paid for only 38 years.

Despite his gruelling 12-hour shifts over six days a week, the owner of the Adithya Restaurant reportedly never paid him any penalty rates or overtime.

As if the owner had not already put Mr Basi to enough of workplace exploitation, he was made to pay back $511 in cash to his employer, Vaisakh Usha, ABC reported last year.

The claims by the Indian national prompted Labor to issue a press release on 31 July 2018 decrying the exploitation by unscrupulous employers. “The Nowra community would hate to know that behind the kitchen door there are workers who are being ripped off and exploited,” said Annette Alldrick at the time.

Mr Basi’s underpayment claim of over $200,000 has now been followed by another claim by a Pakistani chef, Syed Haider, who claims he is owed $230,000 as a result of the alleged wage theft by the troubled restaurant owner.

The Pakistani national claims to have worked 72 hours per week at an unbelievable $8.33 per for two years – “without any break”.

The asset freeze, it is understood, of $450,000 is to ensure that there is enough fund in the event that a judge ordered the restaurant owners to pay the amounts claimed by the Indian and Pakistani chefs. The frozen assets belong to the restaurant company and the owner.

Fair Work Ombudsman too has made a number of interventions in recent times to safeguard rights of workers in the fast food industry, specially that of international students and migrant workers who are at a greater risk of being exploited by unscrupulous employers.


 

“We have an agreement with the Department of Home Affairs that allows visa holders to seek our help without fear of their visa being cancelled,” Fair Work Ombdusman Sandra Parker said yesterday,” Fair Work Ombdusman Sandra Parker said in a recent press release.

The assurance by Ms Parker is expected to encourage more international students to come forward with any workplace grievances they might have; students often fear reporting their workplace exploitation for fear of being deported.

In many cases, employers actually threaten young men and women from overseas to have them “deported”.


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