Chinese refugee, Fu Cong has been left in limbo after the organisation he works for went bankrupt leaving him with no benefits due to loopholes in the visa system.
Cong found a job in a printing company in suburban Melbourne however, unbeknown to its employees, the printing company was trading while insolvent and declared bankruptcy without warning in October last year. He was left with nothing more than a string of dishonored pay cheques and is owed about $5000 in unpaid wages and redundancy entitlements.
In 2012, the Australian government established the Fair Entitlement Guarantee (FEG), which protects the employees of companies which go bankrupt. Australian citizens and permanent residents are entitled to up to 13 weeks of unpaid wages, as well as any unpaid annual leave and redundancy pay. Migrant workers receive nothing.
Matt Kunkel, the director of the Migrant Workers Centre, says some companies that employed large numbers of migrants were deliberately using liquidation as a tactic to avoid paying entitlements, or forcing workers into accepting smaller settlements.
“There is no accountability for employers who can shut up shop and open up again the following day with a new name, wiping away tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars of worker entitlements. When caught underpaying staff, some employers have expressly threatened to go into liquidation as a tactic to force workers to accept a smaller settlement. This move is only available to employers because temporary migrant workers have no access to the FEG scheme to recover their unpaid entitlements.” (Source: The Guardian)