Taiwanese on Australia working holiday claims employer exploiting her
CNATAIPEI--A Taiwanese student on a working holiday vacation in Australia accused her Australian employer and an employment agency Friday of exploiting her.
December 29, 2012, 12:05 am TWN
The graduate student Chou Yu-hsuan said from Australia in a video conference organized in Taipei that she got her first job in Australia as a convenience store cashier through the agency.
Her hourly wage was supposed to be AU$21.56 (US$22.4), but she only received an average of AU$19.79 per hour and was not paid for working overtime, Chou claimed.
Chou said that based on her calculations she received AU$500 less than she was owed for her four weeks of work and was laid off by her employer after asking the agency to make up the shortfall.
The young woman said she knew many fellow Taiwanese workers in Australia who were only making AU$9-AU$10 per hour, less than the country's minimum wage of AU$15.96.
Most of them do not know who to turn to for help after running into such problems as being underpaid, not being allowed to take legally mandated days off, or being laid off without severance, said Chou, who has been in Australia for three months.
MOFA official Lee Hsiao-en said at the conference that Taiwanese workers can file complaints to Fair Work Australia, the country's national workplace relations tribunal, or seek assistance at the ministry's Australian office.
Lee also reminded those interested in work holidays to look for jobs on a job database run by the Australian government or through legal private agencies.
More than 17,000 Taiwanese are currently on working holidays in Australia, the most popular working holiday destination for Taiwanese among seven countries that have signed agreements on the holidays with Taiwan, according to Lee.
The nonprofit Youth Labor Union 95, which held the press conference, later staged a rally and clashed with police outside the Australian Office in Taipei, Australia's de facto embassy in Taiwan in the absence of diplomatic ties.
The office later sent two representatives to accept a petition drawn up by the group that asked the Australian government to improve working conditions for temporary workers, said union spokeswoman Chen Hsiao-wen.
The representatives declined, however, to respond to the petition or pledge further action, Chen said.
Although the activists are not optimistic that the Australian government will respond to their appeal, “we will continue to monitor the situation,” Chen said.