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Hodgman government must act to make wage theft a crime

  • Government is failing Tasmanian workers
  • Wage theft national epidemic hits home
  • Wage theft is theft, and should be a crime

Revelations this week that a Tasmanian business has been penalised for withholding wages owed to workers highlights inaction by the Government to protect vulnerable workers.

Shadow Minister for Workplace Relations Michelle O’Byrne said workers shouldn’t have to worry about whether they’re being paid what they’re owed. Making wage theft a crime would send a clear signal to business that it’s not OK to cheat their employees.

“Tasmanian workers are paid on average $10,000 less than people in the same jobs on the mainland – that’s almost $200 every week.  Wage theft makes it even harder for Tasmanians to make ends meet,” Ms O’Byrne said.

“Our economy can only grow, and grow equitably, when people have meaningful and secure work.

“In recent times we’ve seen what’s been described as a wage theft epidemic, with a growing list of large Australian businesses underpaying workers, including Woolworths, Qantas, Wesfarmers and the Commonwealth Bank. We’ve also seen people like George Calombaris using wage theft as a business model.

“Wage theft is hurting hundreds of thousands of workers across the country and Tasmania is not immune. 

“Let me be clear – wage theft is theft. If the Liberals really want to be tough on crime they should be tough on employers that steal from their workers.  Most employers do the right thing. We need to send a strong message to those who don’t.

“That’s why Labor will seek to establish a Parliamentary Inquiry in 2020 into wage theft and insecure work. 

“There is a need for new wage theft laws to combat systematic, widespread or blatant under and non-payment of wages and other employment benefits.

Michelle O’Byrne
Shadow Minister for Workplace Relations