Date: 7 July 2019
Source: The Sydney Morning Herald
The Department of Home Affairs and the Fair Work Ombudsman are investigating a luxury Blue Mountains hotel group after a Sun-Herald investigation found it is clawing back wages from migrant workers through overpriced accommodation and unpaid overtime.
The Escarpment Group owns Lilianfels and Echoes in Katoomba, the Hydro Majestic in Medlow Bath, the Parklands Country Garden and Lodges in Blackheath and the Convent Hunter Valley. The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) raided the group’s operations in Katoomba and the Hunter Valley last month.
A 14-month Sun-Herald investigation has found the Escarpment Group forces workers on 407 Training Visas to return $480 out of their wages each week to their employer for a shared bedroom and meals that are not always provided. Employees are also not paid for up to three hours of overtime they work each day.
The migrant staff who worked at the group’s properties said these conditions made them feel like “prisoners”. Most workers interviewed by The Sun-Herald did not want to be identified because they feared reprisals. One said: “For me I am in a first world country working in third world [conditions].”