Alleged underpayments at a café have been described as one of the ‘worst cases’ of exploitation by the United Voice Union.
The United Voice Union accuses ‘Hairy Little Sista’ in Melbourne’s CBD of paying employees as little as $17 an hour cash in hand.
It also says the café failed to pay overtime, penalty rates and also superannuation.
Café underpayments exploitation
Jess Walsh, Victorian secretary of United Voice, told ABC News:
“We have met people who have not been paid at all for weeks or months on end,”
For example, Harry Connor claims the café owes him $3,000, however, he claims management punished him when he asked for his outstanding wages.
Connor says they took him off the roster in addition to removing him from the cafe’s Facebook page.
Café failed to collect tax
Kyle Tinnion worked at the café for eight months, and also claims to be a victim of wage theft.
He claims to have contacted Kristine Becker, is the owner of Hairy Little Sista, numerous times.
“There were times I would text her and say, ‘I need my money to pay my bills’,” he said.
“It’s scary to be working and you don’t know if, or when, you are going to be paid.”
According to ABC News, when Kyle left the café, he discovered he owed thousands of dollars in unpaid tax – which the café failed to pay.
“I was wanting a group certificate, I was wanting super, I was wanting pay slips… I received none of those,” he said.
Owner admits mistakes
Becker subsequently admitted to ABC News that “mistakes had been made in the past”.
However, she insisted she always tried to do the right thing by her workers.
Miles Heffernan, Director of Litigation at Industrial Relations Claims, scoffed at that claim.
“That’s bullshit. This woman is an experienced hospitality industry operator, therefore, she knows her workplace obligations,” he said.
“If she can’t afford to pay her workers properly, or doesn’t know how to do it, then she shouldn’t be in business.”
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