9/4/2020 'It's everywhere': the foreign students exposing Australia's wage theft epidemic | Australia news | The Guardian Wage theft is ‘farm-to-table. It happens on the farms up through to the restaurants, to the cleaning services’, according to the Working Women’s Centre. Photograph: David Silverman/Getty Images Within the South Australian Chinese community, these roles are often advertised on AdelaideBBS.com, a Chinese-language news aggregator and community noticeboard. Many of the advertisements listed on the site do not state the rate of pay and, even where they do list it, these rates can be be lowered during negotiations that take place by text message or in person. Job listings on AdelaideBBS.com carry a disclaimer saying the site is not legally responsible for the content and the site’s administrators did not respond to a request for comment. A video shared with Guardian Australia shows one employer offering an applicant for a dishwashing position at a restaurant a wage of $14 an hour. In Australia, the Fair Work commission sets the minimum wage. As of 1 July 2020 the absolute minimum wage was $19.84, or $753.80 a week, though the exact minimums change depending on industry and how a worker is classified. According to the commission’s wage calculator, a person aged 20 years or older working as a casual in the hospitality industry should earn about $25 an hour. When the applicant in the video, which was recorded in January this year, asks why the figure they were given is so low, the employer answers: “We have our ways.” In other text message chains shared with Guardian Australia, applicants for jobs were offered wages between $10 and $11 an hour, though some were as low as $5 an hour. Jacky Chen and Dante Ding, who run a group on the messenger app WeChat for people to share information about dodgy employers, say this is because employers will tell the Australian Tax Office that an employee is working a certain amount of hours at the correct wage. In reality they may be working twice as long, meaning their real wage is half. Chen and Ding started the group earlier this year when they asked people to report businesses in South Australia paying less than $15 an hour. Since then they have allegedly received reports of more than 40 business ripping off workers. “It is something everyone knows about but no one really talks about,” Ding said. “We targeted $15 an hour. We want that to no longer be possible. There are other businesses, but if they pay $16 an hour we don’t know about them.” https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/sep/03/its-everywhere-the-foreign-students-exposing-australias-wage-theft-epidemic 2/6

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