• Endemic culture of wage theft in Illawarra exposed
  • Students and unions working together for fair pay
  • First employee wins wages windfall 

Wage theft is a major issue for workers across the nation but thanks to some sleuthing by students at Wollongong University, some wrongs are being righted.

Following a Fairfax investigation into rampant wage theft in the Illawarra last year, students, unions, MPs and the local business chamber have joined forces to combat the issue.

Wollongong University student and whistle-blower Ashleigh Mounser this week joined a roundtable discussion aimed at clawing back the money owed to workers and educating businesses and students on correct rates of pay.

It’s simple Ashleigh said: “Know your rights - there is a lot of information out there where you can find out what you're entitled to in terms of breaks, trials and fair pay. Don’t accept anything less than the law.”

After getting fed up of being offered jobs well below the legal minimum wage Ashleigh went to great lengths to expose employers committing wage theft across the Illawarra. Now her hard work is paying off.

With the help of South Coast Labor Council Secretary Arthur Rorris Ashleigh’s fellow student Lucy Vance is the first of 13 workers who initially shared their story to receive hundreds in stolen wages.   

“Employers may try and make the most out of you, squeeze you dry, but stand strong and you will get action,” Lucy told the roundtable discussion on Tuesday.

Unions NSW Secretary Mark Morey said all 13 workers exposed in the initial investigation had their backpay cases prioritised by the South Coast Labour Council. 

“Time and time again workers are being exploited at the hands of unscrupulous employers. This is endemic. We need a Royal Commission into wage theft now.” 

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