Thursday 11 June 2009

Trouble at t’Tip

From The Canberra Times, 10 June 2009.

Aussie Junk faces charges over underpaying staff
By Grahame Downie.

Aussie Junk, which operates two recycling centres in Canberra, is being prosecuted by the Federal Workplace Ombudsman, which alleges the company underpaid some Canberra staff about $280,000.

The company, which trades as Aussie Junk Recycling, operates the Mitchell resource and recycling depot as a sub-contractor to Thiess Services .

Aussie Junk also has a contract with the Department of Territory and Municipal Services for recycling at the Mugga Lane Resource Management Centre. In June, 2007, the Government controversially refused to renew a contract with community-based business Revolve, which initiated recycling at Mugga Lane in 1988. After an unsuccessful court action by Revolve, Aussie Junk began its operation at Mugga Lane in August, 2007. The Aussie Junk staff allegedly underpaid, some of whom still work for the company, were employed at the Mitchell depot. The Ombudsman is also prosecuting the company's sole director, Dennis Richter, of Lake Albert, Wagga Wagga, alleging he was complicit in the underpayments and unlawfully sacked three of the workers after they complained.

Documents filed in the Federal Magistrates Court in Canberra allege that Aussie Junk underpaid 10 Canberra employees their entitlements, including the minimum hourly rate, overtime, casual loadings, various allowances and payment on termination of employment between 2004 and 2008. The prosecution papers say Mr Richter terminated the employment of three of the allegedly underpaid workers in July last year as a result of their complaints to the Workplace Ombudsman and the Transport Workers Union. The Ombudsman also alleges Aussie Junk failed to maintain records containing sufficient details of matters such as hours worked and leave taken by employees.

Workplace Ombudsman executive director Michael Campbell said yesterday it would be alleged in court that Aussie Junk had underpaid 10 employees a total of $280,000. The biggest alleged underpayment of an individual was $83,000.

Mr Campbell said it would be alleged some employees had been paid as little as $50 cash- in-hand for nine-hour Sunday shifts at the Mitchell site.

"Our decision to prosecute Aussie Junk and Richter follows their refusals to fully rectify the alleged underpayments or cooperate with workplace inspectors," Mr Campbell said.
The Ombudsman is seeking a court order for all money owed to be repaid and for penalties against the company and Mr Richter. The maximum penalty for each breach of the Act is $33,000 for Aussie Junk and $6600 for Mr Richter.

TOF just pointed me to the disucssion of the issue on the Riot Act there, including information from one commenter

"... if you search ASIC you will find that an application was made for winding up the company Aussie Junk Pty Ltd on the 19th May - only a few days after receiving court papers from the Workplace Ombudsmen (just a coincidence I’m sure).And another business has been registered as Aussie Junk Recyclers with his son named as Sole Proprietor."

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