Victory for Workers in Workplace Ombudsman’s Legal Coup
Following its successful recovery of a massive $93,000 in unpaid wages and entitlements on behalf of four employees of Melbourne company Aprint (Aust) Pty Ltd (Aprint), Australia’s Workplace Ombudsman yesterday (10/9/07) secured two legal coups that are major victories for workplace rights.
The Federal Magistrate’s Court in Melbourne yesterday upheld, for the first time ever, the Workplace Ombudsman’s prosecution under section 728 of the Workplace Relations Act 1996 (the Act), of Mr Dor Tu as an individual that was knowingly involved in contravening worker’s rights. The court imposed four penalties totalling more than $9000.
Nicholas Wilson, Australia’s Workplace Ombudsman said the court’s decision “sends a clear warning to individuals involved in contraventions of workers rights, including company directors and their advisers, that they can no longer avoid their obligations to these workers when the employing business goes into liquidation.”
“The community can be comforted in the knowledge that the Workplace Ombudsman will not hesitate to pierce the corporate veil and go directly after people who are knowingly or recklessly involved in contravening worker’s rights,” Mr Wilson said.
The Melbourne Magistrates Court today also upheld the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecution’s case under sub sections 11.1 and 149.9 of the Criminal Code against Dor Tu for attempting to obstruct a Workplace Ombudsman Workplace Inspector during his investigation of Aprint. The court recorded a criminal conviction and imposed a $2,500 fine.
Nicholas Wilson said that while most employers do the right thing by their workers the courts’ decisions had upheld the legal powers of the workplace watchdog’s Workplace Inspectors and that, “the days are gone when rogue employers can thumb their noses at Workplace Inspectors acting to enforce workers’ rights. This was a very serious attempt to thwart one of our Workplace Inspectors and we will simply not put up with similar activity.”
Australia’s Workplace Ombudsman is the only government agency with the power to investigate and prosecute breaches of Commonwealth workplace relations laws. If any worker is concerned about their workplace rights or wages and entitlements they should immediately contact 1300 724 200.