British backpackers underpaid on Far North crocodile farm

September 12th, 2017 | | industry

Underpaid backpackers whose job description included feeding crocodiles and cleaning up dung have been awarded more than $13,000 following a Fair Work Ombudsman investigation.

The two British nationals worked for four months as ­casuals at a Far North crocodile farm in 2016, notching up the 88-day employment ­required to become eligible for a second year in Australia on their 417 working holiday visas. Their duties included feeding crocodiles, cleaning pens, preparing feed and undertaking general maintenance and manual labour on the farm, which supplied crocodile skins to high-end European fashion labels.

The duo generally worked about 37 hours a week and were each paid a flat rate of $324 per week, with one later receiving a pay rise to $463 after he started driving a dump truck on the farm. Fair Work said the wages fell well short of the legal minimum entitlements under the Pastoral Award.

The watchdog said the workers were entitled to ­receive up to $22.13 for ordinary hours, up to $26.55 for overtime hours and up to $35.40 on public holidays. The backpackers contacted Fair Work after becoming ­concerned their working ­arrangements might not satisfy their visa requirements.

Both have now been back-paid their outstanding wages, with one worker successfully applying for a second-year visa and the other intending to apply soon.

Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James said the farm operators had no previous ­history of breaking workplace laws and had complied with ­inspectors’ directions.

“Employers need to be aware that we treat the underpayment of migrant workers particularly seriously and will not hesitate to take appropriate action to enforce the law when we become aware of an employer deliberately taking advantage of vulnerable workers,” Ms James said.

A Fair Work spokeswoman said the identity of the farm would not be published since its operators had co-operated with authorities and backpaid the missing wages.

Is the Fair Work Ombudsman finally getting her act together, do you know any employers in your region or town who are short-paying 417 visa holders? Have your say.

Source: The Cairns Post

One Response

  1. Suzi says:

    I wonder if the farmer in NQ was taking money out of their pay for accommodation? It wasn’t mentioned in the article above.

    And why, oh why, does it take the British backpackers (who speak English and know their rights from day one……) 88 day to realise they were being under paid??

    I smell a rat.