Woolworths cleaners have were underpaid by dodgy contractors, according to the Fair Work Ombudsman.
As a result, the Federal Circuit Court penalised a number of companies for their involvement in the wage theft.
The affected cleaners, from Korea, worked at various supermarkets in Tasmania.
Woolworths cleaners underpaid
The court penalised Pioneer Facility Services Pty Ltd $20,000, in addition to subsidiary company, Pioneer Contracting Services Pty Ltd, and additional $20,000.
The Pioneer companies subcontracted cleaning work to Mr Sung Gun Hwang and his company OzKorea Pty Ltd.
Hwang then provided cleaners to work at four Woolworths sites in the suburbs of Deloraine, Georgetown, Riverside and Mowbray.
Hwang, as a sole trader and later through OzKorea, underpaid the cleaners who early morning shifts between January 2014 and January 2015.
He failed to pay lawful ordinary hours, in addition to weekend, overtime and also public holiday hours as outlined in the relevant Award.
The wage theft totalled $21,332.
The court also penalised OzKorea $20,400 and Hwang $5,000.
Hwang and OzKorea also provided inspectors with false records.
What the court said
Hwang, who is also of Korean heritage, told the court he paid the same flat rates that others pay “Korean people in the Launceston area” for this type of work.
Judge Alister McNab described the underpayments as a “significant amount” for the workers.
Industrial advocate Miles Heffernan from IR Claims called for wage theft to be criminalised.
“Until we start locking up some of these rogue employers, they will continue to steal from their workers,” he said.
“In this case, the workers were vulnerable because they are from Korea and may not have been aware of their workplace rights.”
High level of non-compliance
A Fair Work report released earlier this year found high levels of non-compliance with workplace laws amongst contractors providing cleaning services to Woolworths supermarkets in Tasmania.
In August, Woolworths committed to protecting the rights of the workers in its cleaning services supply chain by entering into a new Compliance Partnership with Fair Work.
Please call our team at Industrial Relations Claims today on