Queensland workers have welcomed State Parliament passing new wage theft laws today that will see bosses found to steal pay from workers face jail time.
United Workers Union – the union for workers in industries rife with wage theft, such as hospitality, security, cleaning, food production and more – welcomed the laws passing after years of campaigning by members.
The new laws recognise the many forms of wage theft committed by employers, including underpayment, unpaid trials, withholding super, sham contracting, expired agreements, and not paying penalty rates and other entitlements.
Sunshine Coast hospitality worker Tara Small, a member of United Workers Union’s hospitality arm Hospo Voice, said it was a huge day for workers who had their wages stolen by dodgy bosses.
“Bosses who steal wages should go to jail, it’s as simple as that,” Ms Small said.
“These laws passed by the Queensland Government today mean our bosses will be held accountable. And if they don’t pay us fairly, it will be easier for us to get back what we are owed.
“To get my first job in hospitality, I had to work unpaid as a ‘volunteer’. At my next job, I was paid $18 per hour with no penalty rates, and no super.
“I tried to fight for what I was owed. But I didn’t have proper payslips, I had no idea how to make my bosses pay, and I didn’t have the money to go to court. Eventually, I gave up.
“Working in hospitality is my passion, and I’m proud to have fought for these laws to make sure wage theft doesn’t keep happening to me or anyone else.”
Former Mantle Group Pig ‘n’ Whistle employee Declan Langlands was sacks for refusing to pay for a customer who had not covered their own bill, and went to the Young Workers Hub for help.
“When I started, I had to sign a contract that meant I’d have my wages docked for any till imbalances,” Mr Langlands said.
“These deductions weren’t recorded on my payslips. The amounts shown on my payslips often didn’t add up to what went into my bank. At times, I was asked to hand over my own debit card to cover customer bills.
“All employees were paid the base rate, even when we worked on weekends and public holidays.
“It’s great news these laws have gone through to put a stop to wage theft.”
United Workers Union Queensland Secretary Gary Bullock said the state’s union members had led the fight against wage theft and the need for tough new laws.
“These laws restore the balance for workers, ensuring they will get a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work,” Mr Bullock said.
“The Palaszczuk Government has listened to workers and prioritised these important laws going through the Parliament.
“It’s disappointing the LNP members of the Parliamentary Committee stated their reservation to the laws instead of speaking out in support and meeting with workers. This is an alarming sign of things to come if Deb Frecklington and the LNP were to win the election – something every worker should be worried about.”