News

Silo maker in pay rate dispute

by
June 20, 2017

THE Fair Work Ombudsman has taken legal action against a silo manufacturer in Rochester, alleging it underpaid two workers almost $13,000.

This comes after the company was previously put on notice to pay workers their lawful entitlements going back to 1998.

Facing the Federal Circuit Court is Lindsay F. Nelson Manufacturing, which trades as Nelson Silos.

Also facing court are one of the company’s directors and part-owner Eric Nelson and its logistics manager, David Whitehead.

The Fair Work Ombudsman alleges the company underpaid two workers a total of $12,958 between 2012 and 2016.

A casual driver who assisted with delivering silos was allegedly underpaid $4,436 and a full-time turner and fitter involved in their manufacture was allegedly underpaid $8,522.

Inspectors investigated after the workers lodged requests for assistance.

It is alleged the driver was paid a flat rate of $20.62 for all hours worked but was entitled to minimum casual rates of $23.46 for local driving work, minimum casual rates of $32.38 for long distance driving work and overtime rates of up to $39.42.

Overtime meal allowances and casual rates for loading and unloading work were also underpaid.

The turner and fitter was allegedly underpaid his accrued annual leave entitlements on termination of employment.

Although the employees have been partially back-paid, most of the alleged underpayment remains outstanding.

It is alleged that Nelson Silos also failed to comply with three notices to produce employment documents issued by inspectors during the investigation.

Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James said a key factor in the decision to commence legal action was that the company, Nelson and Whitehead had previously been educated by inspectors and put on notice to pay employees lawful minimum entitlements.

‘‘When genuine mistakes occur our preference is to assist employers in properly understanding their obligations and resolving this issue at the workplace level,’’ she said.

‘‘However when our advice is ignored and issues are allowed to continue we will not hesitate to take serious action.

‘‘Employers should be warned, you cannot ignore compliance issues in the workplace. We will take action and this could lead to hefty penalties.’’

Which could run as high as $54,000 per dispute, with Nelson and Whitehead each facing maximum penalties of up to $10,800 per dispute.

The Fair Work Ombudsman also seeks orders for the company to commission an external audit of its compliance with workplace laws and for managerial staff to undertake workplace relations training.

The matter is listed for a directions hearing in the Federal Circuit Court in Melbourne on July 24.

Employers and employees can seek assistance at www.fairwork.gov.au or contact the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94.

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