Foreign workers exploited at Manildra site alleges CFMEU

Posted on 22 Jan 2015 by Tim Brown

According to the CFMEU, the main trade union in construction, forestry and forest products, mining and energy production, 29 foreign metal construction workers are being exploited by a Chinese company operating at Manildra’s Bomaderry site.

The workers are employed by a Chinese company called Chiatung Development Corporation and are working on a construction project in the area.

The South Coast Register reported the CFMEU claims that the Chinese and Filipino workers are being paid the equivalent of $20,000 a year, living in cramped quarters, and working six or seven days a week for 10 – 11 hours at a time.

“Out of that they’re being charged around $13,000 per annum for board and lodging. The Chinese workers get paid annually in Chinese currency, while the Filipino workers are receiving about $A1180 a month,” the union’s Dave Kelly told The Register.

“It’s a bloody shame this has been allowed to happen,” said Mr Curtain. “If we could find all this out after a two-minute visit, why couldn’t Manildra or government agencies like WorkCover NSW?”

Under 457 Visas, overseas workers must have a minimum level of English and be paid the equivalent of what an Australian worker would receive in the same occupation in the same workplace. The Filipino workers are reported to have a good command of English but the Chinese workers do not.

In response to the claims, Gilmore MP Ann Sudmalis said: “I believe companies should advertise extensively in Australia before being allowed to employ anyone under a 457 Visa, especially in areas like Gilmore where unemployment is relatively high.”

The Register sighted one of the worker’s contracts. From an annual salary of $53,900, the follwing deductions are made: $17,500 for Australian taxes, $1260 for insurance, $13,000 for accommodation, $7940 for food and transport. That’s a total deduction of $39,700, leaving them $14,200 for the year’s work.

The worker said some of his colleagues had been on site since October 16, 2014.

South Coast MP Shelley Hancock said, “If it’s true I am really concerned about the conditions for workers. This matter needs to be investigated.”