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Wage theft inquiry vote shows where LNP stands on worker rights

Queensland Unions expect the recently announced parliamentary wage theft inquiry will be swamped by underpaid and ripped-off workers.

State Parliament last night passed a motion for an inquiry into wage theft, with all LNP members voting against.

It will report back to Parliament by 16 November 2018.

Queensland Council of Unions General Secretary Ros McLennan expected an overwhelming response in submissions to the Inquiry, with workers left with few other options to pursue wages stolen from them.

“These workers feel abandoned by the federal Coalition, which shamelessly puts its pursuit of workers and their representatives ahead of the scourge of wage theft and worker underpayment.

“In this year’s Budget the federal Coalition increased funding for the Australian Building and Construction Commission, and the Registered Organisations Commission, two bodies it specifically created to limit the ability of unions to fight for fair wages and justice,” she said.

She said last night’s State Parliament motion to establish the inquiry, passed 53 votes to 39 votes, and laid bare the state LNP’s attitude towards wage theft.

“Every LNP member opposed this inquiry, and sought to deflect responsibility from the federal government for its abject failure to stand up for workers.

“Wage theft is an issue that affects thousands of Queensland workers, and seems to be the preferred business model for dodgy operators. These operators need to be identified and stamped out.

“The LNP should be aware that wage theft has an impact across the community – on workers, families, law-abiding businesses and the wider economy,” she said.

The parliamentary inquiry will travel around the state to hear complaints from workers, unions and responsible businesses about allegations of staff being underpaid or denied their full entitlements.

Unions will also call on the State Government to consider tighter laws to crack down on wage theft with more stringent checks and tougher penalties.

Ms McLennan said wage theft was not confined to underpaying backpackers or young workers.

“The business practices of major companies like Caltex, 7-Eleven, Dominos and Pizza have been exposed as complicit in underpayment of workers. It can’t go on and unions support this inquiry 100 per cent,” she said.