William and Karen's story - Migrant Workers Centre Skip navigation

William and Karen's story

William reached out to the Migrant Workers Centre for support. Through our industrial casework program, we were able to recover $20,000 (before tax) in compensation.

William, a pastry chef from Taiwan, came to Australia in 2011 and met Karen while they were both working on a farm. They returned to Taiwan after completing their working holiday visas, with the goal to migrate and build a life in Australia, with William working as a chef and Karen going to university in Melbourne. They moved to Melbourne in 2015.

They met with a Taiwanese education agent to get visas for studying. William studied a Diploma in Patisserie, only to realise he didn’t need to retrain in Australia because his experience counted through RPL (Recognition of Prior Learning).

In 2018, Karen found a job opportunity for William on Facebook. It was a job offered by someone originally from Taiwan who had a business in a small mining town called Karratha in Western Australia. This person promised to help William attain the Employer Nomination Scheme visa (subclass 186) that would let him stay in Australia as a permanent resident after working for four years. But things didn’t go as smoothly as they hoped.

The boss of the restaurant arranged a Temporary Skill Shortage visa (subclass 482) for both William and Karen. This visa allowed them to stay for two years. At first, the boss said it was a three-month trial, but it took ten months for William to become a full-time worker.

The contract said William would work 38 hours each week and was paid $57,000 every year. But he ended up working longer than that, averaging around 48 hours a week. William never received overtime for those extra hours. The couple faced financial constraints, with the cost of living in the small mining town being very expensive.

William had a dispute with another person he worked with who happened to be friends with the boss. After this, William was told he would lose his job in August 2022. His employer told him he had multiple warnings and was performing poorly. He received no warnings and was given a fake warning letter backdated for April 2022.

Because of how they were treated, Karen shared their story online, criticising the boss. This made the boss threaten to take them to court for defamation. William tried to get help from Fair Work Australia, claiming unfair dismissal.

“I want to protect other migrant workers from a bad boss” William says.

In a rush to find another job that would help them stay in Australia, William got a new job offer. He was about to sign the contract, but the next day, the employer changed his mind and said they couldn’t work for him anymore.

“This is a very small town, people talk.”

William explained that in small towns like this, everyone knows each other, and the town depends on the businesses. So, when there’s a problem with the boss, it’s really hard for just one person to fight against an entire community.

“We are not sure what to do next, our life is very much in limbo now.”

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