Sydney company faces Court action over alleged underpayment of immigrant workers

7 November 2012

Note: Reference to prosecution in this media release is a general reference to the FWO commencing proceedings for the imposition of civil penalties and should not be taken to be a reference to criminal proceedings.

The Fair Work Ombudsman has launched a prosecution against the operator of a mailing house in Sydney, alleging it underpaid 21 workers a total of almost $360,000.

Facing court is Palcoy Pty Ltd, which trades as Pack One and Post at Rockdale, providing services such as printing, labeling, packing and plastic wrapping, predominantly to advertising companies.

Also facing court is company director and part-owner John Watts, of Beverley Park.

Twenty one casual employees at the mailing house were allegedly underpaid a total of $359,963 between 2006 and 2009.

All of the employees are female of Chinese heritage who speak little English. Most are immigrants.

They performed manual handling duties relating to the assembly, packaging and posting of printed materials.

The employees were allegedly paid flat rates of between $11 and $13 per hour, resulting in underpayment of their minimum hourly rates, casual loadings, overtime rates and public holiday penalty rates. Laws relating to minimum engagement periods were allegedly also breached.

One employee is allegedly owed $31,461.

The Fair Work Ombudsman discovered the alleged underpayments when it investigated complaints lodged by employees.

Palcoy has partially rectified the underpayments but that more than $250,000 allegedly remains outstanding to 15 employees.

Mr Watts was allegedly involved in Palcoy committing several breaches of workplace laws.

Mr Watts faces fines of up to $6600 per breach and Palcoy faces fines of up to $33,000 per breach. The Fair Work Ombudsman is also seeking a Court Order for the company to fully rectify the underpayments.

A directions hearing is listed in the Federal Magistrates Court in Sydney on November 12.

Employers or employees seeking assistance should contact the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94 or visit www.fairwork.gov.au. A free interpreter service is available on 13 14 50.

Follow the Fair Work Ombudsman on Twitter @fairwork_gov_au external-icon.png or find us on Facebook external-icon.png.

Media inquiries:

Ryan Pedler, Assistant Director, Media & Stakeholder Relations
(03) 9954 2561, 0411 430 902
ryan.pedler@fwo.gov.au

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