Jul 5, 2017

Literal wage theft: employers force migrant workers to return their wages

Migrant workers are being forced to pay back large chunks of their wages. But don't hold your breath waiting for the government to do anything about it.

Charlie Lewis — Journalist

Charlie Lewis


Employee underpayments are frequently cited as "wage theft". But the workplace regulator is increasingly dealing with a more literal version: employers coercing their staff to pay back chunks of their wages. Those targeted are primarily migrants, particularly when the leverage of being able to withhold visa support guarantees their compliance -- and often silence. And by the look of things, addressing it is not a government priority.

"Migrant workers tend to be more likely to fall prey to cash-back scams because they are often very desperate to find work," associate professor in law at the University of Adelaide Joanna Howe told Crikey.  

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8 thoughts on “Literal wage theft: employers force migrant workers to return their wages

  1. Will

    How about this for a simple solution? The Fair Work Ombudsman should be empowered to employ exploited migrant worker whistleblowers for the remaining duration of their studies as workplace inspectors / rights educators, paid for from fines imposed on law-breaking employers.

    1. AR

      Sounds doubleplus good to me – they’d certainly have the background experience.

  2. Bill Hilliger

    And there is a deafening silence from the LNP government, in particular our favourite nodding simpleton Michaelia Cash.

  3. old greybearded one

    Simple solution. This theft and extortion. In most situations this is a criminal offence and should be one now. Jail the mongrels.

    1. Will

      We don’t have anywhere enough room in our jails for that! Perhaps there’s an offshore solution though?

    2. Draco Houston

      Here’s my simple solution: give immigrants full work rights instead of giving capitalist swine the power to make them literally slaves.

      1. AR

        Draco – immigrants have full work rights, the most exploited are those on student, 457 and other visas.
        Also, nobody gave the capitalist swine the power to enslave them, they abrogated it to themselves.
        For lack of anybody with power giving a flying.

  4. AR

    Imagine if we had a political party, preferably with some association or experience with working people and perhaps even those who once used to look after the working conditions of the aforesaid.
    Now if this imaginary party proposed policies which would ensure that foreign workers who currently are so badly treated that the effects on wages flow on to the native population, esp their unskilled offspring who cannot undertake apprenticeships because business gets the skilled workers they need for a pittance without having to bother with silly things like OH&S, fair pay or condition and…
    Yeah, I know, phantasy land stuff. Just a dream some of us once had.

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