Media Release

31 July 2018

NSW Labor has stepped up its calls for the State Government to crack down on unscrupulous employers accused of wage theft, following the latest case to emerge of a Nowra restaurant owner.

Shadow Industrial Relations Minister Adam Searle and Labor’s candidate for the South Coast, Annette Alldrick, today called for the crackdown in the wake of new allegations.

The owner of the Adithya Kerala restaurant in Nowra allegedly owes one of his employees, Midhun Basi, a staggering $227,000 in wages racked up in less than two years.

Mr Basi worked 70-hour weeks at the Nowra restaurant as well as at another restaurant in Wollongong owned by his employer. His employer allegedly regularly deducted money from Mr Basi’s pay packet to help pay for the restaurant’s tax bills and rent.

It has fallen to the local Labor council to take up Mr Basi’s case but Mr Searle said more could be done by the State Government.

Labor has committed to implementing stronger deterrents, as current penalties are not tough enough.

Labor has a five point plan to eliminate the exploitation of vulnerable workers and crack down on businesses that underpay their staff. It is as follows:

• A new wage theft law to criminalise the deliberate failure to pay wages and entitlements;
• New laws to hold head franchisors accountable for the actions of franchisees;
• Widened powers for workplace inspectors to undertake wage audits;
• A licensing scheme for labour hire companies, forcing them to comply with labour laws and ensuring they provide safe, fair and reasonable work conditions; and
• New laws to protect Sunday penalty rates in all state awards and agreements.

Quotes attributable to Labor Leader in the Legislative Council and Shadow Minister for Industrial Relations Adam Searle:

“More can and should be done to prevent the systematic exploitation of workers.

“We need stronger laws and better enforcement, because there are still a number of unscrupulous employers that aren’t getting the message.

“NSW Labor will deliver a new wage theft law to criminalise the deliberate failure to pay wages and other entitlements.”

Quotes attributable to Labor’s candidate for the South Coast Annette Alldrick:

“The Nowra community would hate to know that behind the kitchen door there are workers who are being ripped off and exploited.

“No one wants to see someone getting worked to the bone and not being paid fairly.

“I’m proud to represent a party that will crack down on wage theft so that people in the workforce – whether that’s our mum or dad, son or daughter – are getting paid a fair day’s wage.”