Four out of five Chinese, Korean and Spanish jobs illegally advertised below minimum pay rates

  • A new study finds 78 per cent of foreign language job advertisements in Spanish, Korean and Chinese are illegally offering less than the minimum wage


  • Unions are launching a push for expanded right of entry powers, allowing them to inspect the books of companies suspected of exploiting vulnerable migrant workers


  • Unions NSW launches - a new website to name and shame companies that refuse to comply with minimum wages


A Unions NSW audit of job advertisements on Chinese, Korean and Spanish language websites finds four out of five businesses advertising illegal pay rates below the minimum Award wage.

The Unions NSW report, Lighting up the black market: Enforcing minimum wages provides alarming insight into the prevalence of migrant exploitation and wage theft. 

Separate audits in 2016 and 2017 examined 200 jobs, with 78% advertising pay rates below the award minimum. The 2017 audit of Mandarin and Cantonese job advertisements found 100 per cent of rates offered below Award rates. 

The audit found hospitality was a particularly bad offender. The average rate of pay advertised was $13.60 an hour. The 2017-18 Award minimum for an introductory level worker on the Restaurant Industry Award is $18.29 per hour.

For the 200 jobs audited, the survey found a total annual underpayment of $1.62 million, equating to $8,000 per business per year or $31,100 per week.

"This is wage theft on a massive scale. And it's being perpetrated against people ill-equipped to fight back," said Mark Morey, Unions NSW Secretary.

"Migrants often know they are being ripped off but lack the language skills, confidence and support to stand up for their rights. Often migrant workers are threatened, or must consider how a complaint will affect their visa or residency status. 

"We intend to keep shining a bright light on this problem while taking action against wage theft employers.

"Our research finds that some employers believe they can offer a 'Korean' 'Chinese' or 'Spanish' rate of pay. Your pay rate is not determined by passport or ethnicity. We are all entitled to Australian standards. 

"Allowing unions better access to dodgy workplaces would empower workers to stand up for their rights as would criminal sanctions against wage thieves. These are both measures that should be adopted by Commonwealth and NSW governments.”

Unions NSW will begin the process of pushing for expanded right of entry powers at the forthcoming NSW Labor conference. 

Note to editors: In March 2016 and April 2017 Unions NSW conducted two audits of online job advertisements written in Chinese, Korean and Spanish. Ads were randomly selected from webpages Hojunara(Korean), Sydney Today (Chinese) and a number of Facebook groups targeted at Spanish speakers from Latin America. They were translated with information recorded on the industry, job, rate of pay and additional information. Some follow up phone calls were made to businesses to collect information on rates of pay if this information was not included in the original advertisement. 

Further comment: Mark Morey 0425 231 812

Further info: Nick Lucchinelli 0422 229 032

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