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Wage theft will continue until labour laws are resurrected

Crikey readers on wage theft and the apartment construction crisis.

How do you stem the rampant wage theft being revealed in more and more Australian industries? Stop weakening labour laws, Crikey readers suggest (along with some more novel suggestions). Meanwhile, readers tackled another ongoing problem: the increasingly startling apartment construction crisis.

On wage theft

Robert Graham writes: When the government allowed the dairy farmers to be robbed of their labour by demanding milk below the cost of production, how long did anybody in the labour movement think it would take to happen to mainstream labour? It seems the only crime in wage robbery is from the government. Weakening organised labour, you can see this will be the norm. Woolworths is only just the scab on the sore of under-payment and robbery of foreign and local workers.

Richard Shortt writes: Look, this all comes down to simple math. The more zeros you have in the numbers you are responsible for the less chance of mistakes, whereas those smaller numbers without zeros and with decimal points — like $12.37 — are far more complex and therefore more likely to result in errors. The evidence for this “truth” is that senior executive pay is always calculated correctly and never an issue (lots of zeros, see). Perhaps the answer lies in paying the lower level staff more! Hey, could work.

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On the apartment crisis 

Keith Thomas writes: Don’t buyers do their “due diligence” when they or their solicitors check that the building has been checked and passed by an authorised certifier? Surely Chandler should have it as a well-publicised priority to clean out the certification industry including formal investigation with a view to prosecute negligent certifiers — going back a few years and including those who have since left the industry.

Bill Hilliger writes: You have to wonder what would happen with these apartment buildings if there was ever a even minor earth tremor in Sydney or Melbourne.

A clarification

Guy Rundle’s story published in Crikey last week incorrectly stated that Sam Rae had been Daniel Andrews’ chief of staff; he was, in fact, Labor’s state secretary. It also failed to state that Clare Burns has recently been appointed as Labor’s state secretary. The piece has been updated to reflect this.

Send your comments, corrections, clarifications and cock-ups to We reserve the right to edit comments for length and clarity. Please include your full name if you would like to be considered for publication.

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Peter Fray
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