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Australia Protesters call for wage theft crackdown in Adelaide's Chinatown following alleged assault

08:17  06 february  2021
08:17  06 february  2021 Source:   abc.net.au

Biden's plan for a $15 minimum wage could mean 1 in 5 Americans earn more. Nearly a third of Black workers would get a raise, research suggests.

  Biden's plan for a $15 minimum wage could mean 1 in 5 Americans earn more. Nearly a third of Black workers would get a raise, research suggests. Around a fifth of the US workforce would be better off if the federal minimum wage were boosted to $US15 an hour, new research has found. Nearly one-third of Black American workers would get a raise, the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) found. The wage bump is a core component of President Joe Biden's $US1.9 trillion stimulus plan. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. Nearly 32 million Americans would earn more under President Joe Biden's proposals to more than double the federal minimum wage to $US15 an hour, according to calculations by thinktank Economic Policy Institute (EPI).

Nat Cook et al. standing in front of a sign: Workers' groups are concerned by the number of wage theft claims in Adelaide's Chinatown. (ABC News: Sara Tomevska) © Provided by ABC NEWS Workers' groups are concerned by the number of wage theft claims in Adelaide's Chinatown. (ABC News: Sara Tomevska)

Dozens of protesters have again gathered in Adelaide's Chinatown district urging better wage protections for vulnerable workers, especially migrants and international students.

The rally came after an alleged assault on a worker at Chinatown business Fun Tea last week, which has sparked discussion about alleged wage theft among the international student community.

Footage of the incident, which went viral on social media, shows a verbal dispute between a man and a young woman who makes claims about wage theft.

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The man can be heard denying the claims.

The video then shows another man stepping in and striking the woman in the face before kicking her to the ground.

That man — a 39-year-old from Glen Osmond — has since been arrested and charged with assault.

Fun Tea has taped a note to the door acknowledging "a complaint about the employee's pay or rates of pay" but said the claim was unrelated to the alleged assault.

Rally demands 'fair go'

Protesters today returned to Chinatown, carrying placards with slogans including "fair go" and "modern slavery".

Organisers of the rally urged a broader community debate on systemic underpayment, saying they had received "thousands" of reports from migrant workers receiving less than the minimum wage.

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"We need to try very hard to encourage them to really stand up to speak out [about] their victim experience, and also encourage them to take any actions," said Say Leng Kapsis, who founded workers support group Fair Go SA.

"Especially in Chinatown, many employees pay only as low as $10 [per hour]. That is almost 50 per cent less than the legal pay.

"Wage theft is a crime."

Ms Kapsis said many vulnerable victims were afraid of being blacklisted or blackmailed by unscrupulous employers.

"They could spread rumours against these wage theft victims," she said.

'We need better laws'

Labor spokeswoman Irene Pnevmatikos said there needed to be a more legislative solution.

"We're continuing to look into the issue of wage theft," she said.

"At the end of the day, it's abundantly clear we need better laws, we need tougher regulations that will protect workers."

Human Services Minister Michelle Lensink said existing mechanisms, including SafeWork SA and the Fair Work Commission, were empowered to handle wage theft allegations.

"All employers need to abide by laws that already exist in terms of wage theft," she said.

"We have the independent regulators, and they have significant powers to manage these matters.

"We encourage anybody who's got any issues in relation to wage theft to go to those independent regulators to ensure they're getting a fair deal."

SafeWork SA is investigating the incident and the matter has been referred to the Fair Work Ombudsman.

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The governor's proposal starts with an increase to a $12 minimum wage by July and annual raises through 2027.Pennsylvania currently matches the federal minimum wage requirement of $7.25 an hour. Under Wolf's proposal, minimum wage employees would start receiving $12 an hour in July, and the state wage would increase annually until it reaches $15 an hour in 2027.

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