Hydro Majestic Hotel in New South Wales’ Blue Mountains has responded to claims of exploiting visa workers, which came to light this week.
Hotel operator Escarpment Group has hit back at claims the hotel is churning through “cheap labour”, labelling it “derogatory and offensive” towards hotel staff.
A Sun-Herald investigation, published on 7 July 2019, claims workers on 407 Training Visas pay more than $6600 to undertake a 52-week internship at the hotel and are “forced to share a small bedroom that their employer rents to them”.
According to the the report, Escarpment Group deducts a compulsory charge of $480 from migrant workers’ wages each week to pay for a shared bedroom and meals.
In response to the allegations, Escarpment Group operations manager Adam Holmes said the group does not charge any fees for the training, and instead pays trainees a full-time salary of at least $49,950 plus superannuation.
“The boarding fees are paid separately and the cost is at market rate of $67 per day (or $480 per week) for three meals and furnished accommodation with internet, laundry, linen,” he said in a statement.
Claims of unpaid overtime
During the investigation, The Sun-Herald interviewed nine hotel workers and examined the employment records of seven workers on 407 Training Visas.
The report claims the workers are asked to sign time sheets that record 38 hours of work a week, however they actually work up to 50 hours per week. The unpaid overtime is reportedly recorded on a different set of handwritten time sheets.
Escarpment Group told The Sun-Herald it is being investigated by Department of Home Affairs and Fair Work, and that it is co-operating with the investigation.
“Escarpment Group is co-operating with that investigation and believes that it has acted in accordance with the applicable industrial laws,” a company statement said.
Exploitation claims are “simply not true”
In an official statement released today (9 July 2019) by Escarpment Group, Holmes denied any allegations of exploitation.
“References to Escarpment Group churning through cheap labour from India, the Philippines and Vietnam is certainly not true,” the statement read.
“These are skilled trainees who are well paid and we proud (sic) of their achievements. They are not ‘cheap labour’. We find this derogatory and offensive for the multi-racial staff at the Hydro Majestic, who are well paid professionals.
“We are a multicultural and ethical company which respects people’s rights. We are disappointed to see this being portrayed differently. We have always assisted new migrants in this country and any references of exploitation are simply not true.”