'It's everywhere': the foreign students exposing Australia's wage theft epidemic | Australia news | The Guardian


'It's everywhere': the foreign students exposing
Australia's wage theft epidemic
International students in Australia are easy prey for exploitative bosses with hourly rates as low as
$5, but some are fighting back
Royce Kurmelovs
Wed 2 Sep 2020 18.30 BST

What happened to Naomi* has happened a thousand times before, it’s just that now, she says,
people are speaking out.
Two years ago, the 25-year-old moved from China to Australia to study a course in early
childhood care and education.
At first her parents offered to support her so she could focus on study, but, when her father’s
factory was forced to close when the pandemic began, she began looking for ways to support
What she found was a job at a restaurant paying $12 an hour to work 11-hour days on the
promise that after a month she would be bumped up to a $20 rate. That day, however, never
came and instead she was told two weeks later to go home and wait for a call about her next
shift – but the call never came.
“They gave hope and then they took it away,” Naomi said. “I am curious about how in
Australia, if every law is so perfect, why these businesses can still get away with this here?
They earn Australian money, but they take all the advantage into their pockets.”
Now Naomi is planning to fight a wage theft case against her former employer – thanks in part
to a group of Chinese international students and travellers on working holiday visas who have
begun to expose allegations of predatory behaviour by employers.
In what is an open secret, bosses are allegedly exploiting the lack of knowledge around
Australia’s industrial relations system among migrant communities – particularly where they
speak languages other than English – hiring people into jobs that pay as little as $5 an hour.



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