ACT workers allegedly told to ‘buy’ leave

A Canberra restaurant has been accused of forcing migrant workers to purchase sick and holiday leave.

Former employees from the Indian restaurant have lodged allegations of exploitation and wage theft with the Fair Work Ombudsman.

The hospitality union, United Voice, is planning a protest outside the Lonsdale Street restaurant on Thursday.

Former manager Shojin Thomas claims workers were told their visas would be cancelled if they didn’t buy their leave.

Workers were allegedly told the money was meant to cover tax and replacement staff.

“We had no choice. They controlled us,” Ms Thomas said.

Former cook Ninumol Abraham said she was fired for poor performance after submitting a medical certificate.

Ms Abraham has filed a complaint against the restaurant with the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

United Voice secretary Lyndal Ryan said it was clear worker exploitation was happening “right under our noses” in the ACT.

“Perhaps the greatest irony of the situation is that the restaurant is located literally next door to the Department of Home Affairs,” Ms Ryan said.


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