The Fair Work Ombudsman, the government arm that acts as the AU’s industrial relations tribunal for any company in the country, from commercial cleaning services in Sydney to car rentals in Melbourne, put the Aussie arm of the MCG in the hot seat regarding the underpayment of overseas workers.
The MCG was penalised by $132,217, as the result of the FWO pressing charges after an investigation regarding the MCG discovered that 11 overseas workers were underpaid by $37,471 for the cleaning work that they handled back in 2014 at MCG, following the AFL matches.
The ISS Facility Services Australia Limited, the division of the ISS Group that handles commercial cleaning services in Sydney and across the AU, is the one that holds the contract to provide the cleaning services at the MCG, and are the recipients of the penalty issued by the FWO in the Federal Circuit Court, which held the company accountable via accessorial liability laws due to not being the direct employer of the 11 cleaners.
The 11 underpaid cleaners were hired by the now-deregistered First Group of Companies Pty. Ltd., which ISS subcontracted from 2009 to 2014 to act as the providers of cleaning services at the MCG. On top of all of that, First Group of Companies had dealt with the cleaners under sham contracts, treating the 11 as independent contractors despite actually being employees.
Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James says that the penalty that they handed down to the company should be a wake-up call for any contractor that believe they can just ignore any non-compliance that their subcontractors engage in. She says that the FWO has been warning businesses about this matter for years now, and that companies cannot ignore the exploitation of contracted workers in their corporate supply chains, regardless of how much lower down the workers are.
James added that the FWO will hold everyone involved in underpayment, from the head contractors going down, and that these companies risk serious consequences if they fail or ignore the necessary precautions to ensure that any subcontractors in their chain treat workers properly as demanded by the law.
Proving accessorial liability, James says, is a complex matter, though they have expressed joy that the FWO was able to acquire the evidence needed to prove the involvement of companies in breaches in workplace laws.