A hastily organised protest against wage theft by the Young Workers Hub has been described as nothing more than a cynical publicity stunt, designed to create the illusion that unions are actively working to fight the problem, ahead of a parliamentary inquiry.
The accusation was made by Miles Heffernan, Litigation Director at WAGETHEFT.net.au, who has represented hundreds of workers who have been ripped off by their bosses.
“This was a pathetic publicity stunt, and a desperate move to show that the local unions are actually doing something about wage theft, when they have been strangely absent from the restaurants, cafes and fast food outlets of Brisbane until now, ” he said.
“It’s in total contrast to what we’re seeing in Victoria, where the Hospo Voice union is constantly holding protests, generating media coverage, and running social media campaigns, all to expose greedy businesses that are ripping off workers.”
‘Blitz’ involved 15 people and didn’t target any businesses
The so-called Brisbane wage theft “blitz”, which involved about 15 people holding signs and chanting for an end to wage theft in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley restaurant and food precinct, was the first time Queensland unions have been seen publicly doing something to combat the problem.
It was staged less than a week before the Young Workers Hub was due to give evidence to the Queensland inquiry into wage theft.
“What a coincidence that just days before they are due to appear before an inquiry that has been told that they are not doing enough to fight wage theft, this mob hits the streets with their posters and their bull horns and their outrage,” Mr Heffernan said.
The Young Workers Hub, which is the creation of the Queensland Council of Unions, organised the “blitz” a week earlier on social media, with posts on Facebook calling for people to take part.
The protesters handed out leaflets, but they did not accuse any specific business of stealing wages.
Instead, they relied on statistics from the Fair Work Ombudsman, which found that 60 percent of restaurants and cafes audited in the area weren’t obeying workplace laws.
“The reason they didn’t target any particular business and accuse them of wage theft is because they don’t know of any – for an organisation that’s supposed to be fighting for workers, it really is pathetic,” Mr Heffernan said.
Hospo Voice Union active and visible
In Victoria, the Hospo Voice union has exposed a number of cafes, restaurants and bars accused of ripping off their workers, attracting mainstream media coverage with protests, and putting forward actual victims of wage theft to tell their stories.
Industrial Relations Claims, which runs WAGETHEFT.net.au, has made its own submission to the Queensland wage theft inquiry, and has called on unions in the state to do more.
“Wage theft has been allowed to run rampant while unions have been asleep at the wheel, and all of a sudden, when the government calls a public inquiry, they take to the streets with their ‘blitz’,” Mr Heffernan said.
“What a joke – but I hope they will now do more to protect their paid-up members, and all workers, who are being ripped off by their boss.”
If you have not received your proper wages and entitlements, or are considering legal action to recover stolen wages, we can help.
Please call our specialist team at WAGETHEFT.net.au on
1300 1 THEFT (1300 184 338)
To connect with us, please follow us on: