The resolution, put forward by the Transport Workers’ Union Victoria/Tasmania Branch, calls for a “clearer and tougher deterrent to employers stealing from the pay-checks of their staff, through wage underpayment and superannuation non-payment”.
The move at the Victorian Labor State Conference follows exposés of companies which have chronically underpaid their employees.
“Available remedies for those caught underpaying are currently confined to voluntary payments, mediation, and letters of caution, court orders and fines. This system encourages unscrupulous employers to see what they can get away with and is not keeping with the expectations of modern Australia,” said John Berger, TWU Vic/Tas Branch Secretary.
7-Eleven has so far paid out $90 million for non-payment of wages while Caltex has set up a $20 million fund to repay their workers. Dominos has said is has returned $4.5 million to its workers that it underpaid.
“In transport, wage theft has created financial pressure on truck drivers that ultimately kills people,” John added.
A 2008 report by Australia’s National Transport Commission found evidence ‘linking payment levels and systems to crashes, speeding, driving while fatigued and drug use’.
There is also a problem with non-payment of superannuation. A report by Industry Super Australia shows in 2013-2014 employers failed to pay $5.6 billion in super payments. The report shows transport was identified as one of the worst industries for non-payment of super.