Date: 7 August 2019
School Cleaners Map Out Action Plan for Better Pay, Respect
On 29 June, the Migrant Workers Centre (MWC) joined a group of international students and their union, United Voice Victoria (UV), to blueprint issues they face working as school cleaners and strategise steps going forward.
Rakesh Prajapati and Nick Richardson from UV, accompanied by MWC Organiser Hanna, helped students identify some of the universal grievances they share including:
- Systematic and disrespectful behaviour towards school cleaners;
Significant decline in working hours;
Being constantly stressed and anxious to get the job done due to shrinking hours; and
- Health issues resulted from intensity of work.
Led by activist Brenda Villalobo, an international student from Argentina, the participants had fervent discussions about their study and working lives in Australia and set out their goal to solve these problems by joining together in union and taking actions as a collective.
One of the participants noted: “The only way is sticking together and be powerful”.
The students also reached consensus that during the coming weeks they would have conversations with their peers in their workplaces to increase their collective power, aiming to hold government ultimately accountable for the pay and conditions of school cleaners.
Monash City Chinese Community Welcomes Migrant Workers Centre
Thanks to the unwavering support from Monash City Council and public libraries across the City, the Migrant Workers Centre (MWC) successfully held the first “Understanding Your Employment Rights” workshop in Mandarin for Chinese community members in Glen Waverley on 2 July 2019.
During the workshop, which was highly welcomed by the participants, MWC Organiser Wallace Huang shared detailed knowledge about legal rights and entitlements enjoyed by Australian workers, including the right to join unions, the difference between permanent and casual employment, how to calculate penalty rate, sick leave and annual leave, what information should be included in payslips, and how to stay healthy and safe at work.
Some 20 participants from nearby neighbourhoods left few seats empty in the room and all remained curious and active throughout the entire 90 minutes of the session. Community members were so engaged that they didn’t want to leave after the workshop, and shared their story of working in Australia with the MWC.
After the workshop, MWC answered questions from community members regarding problems regularly faced by Chinese workers such as lunch breaks being too short, employers arbitrarily cutting and changing part-time employee’s hours, and employer’s failure to ensure annual leave and penalty rate entitlements.
The Glen Waverley workshop was not only overwhelmingly appraised by the participants, but also the event organisers from Monash City Council and other community organisations, opening up opportunities for the MWC to work even more extensively and regularly with community partners in the future.
MWC March with Union, Hospitality Workers in Protest Against Wage Theft in Chinatown
Activists and organisers of the Migrant Workers Centre marched through Chinatown with dozens of workers and union supporters, bring the public attention to the outrageous and prevalent wage theft committed by dodgy restaurant bosses.
In the evening of 16 July 2019, angry working people, many of whom are migrants and international students, claimed that they were paid as little as $5 per hour, slept on milk crates in the kitchen and were sacked via social media.
As union banners and megaphones stormed the famous Vietnamese diner Hochi Mama and other restaurants, protester chanted “What’s outrageous? Stolen wages! Screw just one? You screw us all!”
Hospitality industry union Hospo Voice has brought the case on behalf of the workers to government watchdog the Fair Work Ombudsman, reported The Age.