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Fair Work Ombudsman alleges underpayment of stadium cleaners
A late-night visit by Fair Work Inspectors to Melbourne's Etihad (now Marvel) Stadium after a 2017 AFL match has led to legal action against the venue’s then principal cleaning contractor, a sub-contractor and two individual directors.
The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) has commenced action in the Federal Circuit Court against:
• Quayclean Australia Pty Ltd, a national cleaning company that held the principal contract to provide cleaning services at the Stadium.
• A Melbourne-based company Ranvel Pty Ltd, which was formerly subcontracted by Quayclean to provide some of the cleaning services at the venue.
• Ranvel owner-director Indika Udara Lokubalasuriya.
• Harjot Singh, who was a director of Melbourne-based company Lionheart Pty Ltd (now in liquidation), which was also formerly subcontracted by Quayclean to provide some cleaning services at the stadium.
The FWO alleges that 25 cleaners, 14 employed by Ranvel and 11 employed by Lionheart, were underpaid a total of $99,637 between 1st February and 30th June 2017 after being paid flat rates for cleaning work performed at the stadium.
Advising that addressing supply-chain risks is one of the workplace regulator’s key priorities, Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker stated "the Fair Work Ombudsman prioritises any matters involving a supply chain in the cleaning sector.
“Workers employed in this sector are low-paid, often vulnerable migrant workers with limited understanding of their workplace rights. We investigated this matter after receiving an underpayment allegation through FWO’s online anonymous report tool.
“We also encourage cleaning companies to join the Cleaning Accountability Framework. This industry-led initiative promotes the adoption of best practice throughout the cleaning supply chain to improve labour and cleaning standards in Australia.”
The affected employees were allegedly underpaid entitlements under the Cleaning Services Award 2010, such as minimum ordinary hourly rates, casual loadings and penalty rates.
Lionheart and Mr Singh allegedly paid 11 cleaners flat hourly rates ranging from $7 to $23, resulting in total underpayments of $75,138.26. Ranvel and Lokubalasuriya allegedly paid 14 cleaners a flat rate of $16 per hour, resulting in total underpayments of $24,498.80.
The FWO alleges that Quayclean paid amounts to Ranvel and Lionheart that were not sufficient for the subcontractors to meet various Award entitlements, and was involved as an accessory in some of the underpayment contraventions.
Quayclean Australia Pty Ltd and Ranvel Pty Ltd each face Court penalties of up to $63,000 per contravention and Lokubalasuriya and Singh each face penalties of up to $12,600 per contravention. Lionheart cannot be pursued because it is in liquidation.
The alleged underpayment amounts owed to the Ranvel and Lionheart employees have been rectified in full.
A directions hearing is listed for 18th February 2020 in the Federal Circuit Court in Melbourne.
Since the incident, Quayclean overhauled its operational and business model.
The Fair Work Ombudsman can be contacted on 131 394.
Image: Etihad (now Marvel) Stadium.
13th January 2020 - Fair Work Ombudsman review leads Quayclean to adopt new business model
4th November 2019 - AFL announces new management arrangements for Marvel Stadium
7th October 2019 - Fair Work Ombudsman audits cleaning operations at Optus Stadium
9th September 2019 - Fair Work Ombudsman reveals audit of stadia cleaning contractors
21st August 2019 - Marvel Stadium partners with Ingles family to launch sensory room
20th January 2014 - AALARA reminds industry employers of bullying provisions of the Fair Work Act
1st October 2009 - Union looks for Dreamworld pay breakthrough
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