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Rampant student exploitation in Australia, says investigation

International students will no longer face a cap on working hours for hospitality and tourism jobs Source: wikipedia

Many local and international students are caught in Australia's mushrooming world of underpayment.

Many local and international students are caught in Australia's mushrooming world of underpayment.

In this world, according to a recent investigation by the Fairfax Media, only lip service is paid to work and wage-related laws.

On a social media student forum at the University of Wollongong in NSW, students share their experience of being ripped off by employers mostly in the hospitality industry.

UOW Students Buy and Sell
UOW Students Buy and Sell
Facebook - UOW Students Buy and Sell

Student experiences show that many are constantly exploited, paid often close to half of what they should legally earn and work as many as 20 hours a week unpaid.

This unpaid work in most cases is referred to as “work trials” – lasting an entire day!

The student stories published in the Sydney Morning Herald are backed by research data.

Fairfax Media earlier uncovered rampant underpayment of 7-Eleven and Caltex employees.

The research statistics shows the systemic exploitation of workers under the age of 25 in cafes, restaurants and shops.

Many of these student workers are unable to understand the system of wages in Australia.

When an employer tells them that they are being paid fair, these students find it difficult to challenge and protest.

Some employers resort to paying the minimum national award rate.

But they are still underpaying these student workers who are entitled to weekend penalty rates or an extra loading.

Jim Stanford, Director of the Centre for Future Work at the Australia Institute told the Fairfax Media that “as employers discover they can get people to work for free, they start retooling their business model to take advantage of that.”

Another factor contributing to this is that only 240 Fair Work Ombudsman inspectors are available to police millions of workplaces.

Dr Stephen Clibborn from the University of Sydney Business School says “small businesses know the chances of being caught underpaying staff are small.”

Community legal services are also struggling to cope with an increasing number of exploited workers.

You can check your wage rate using Fair Work Ombudsman Pay Calculator. This Pay Calculator calculates base pay rates, allowances and penalty rates (including overtime).