457 visa pair celebrate deal for back pay
December 18, 2007
TWO Chinese 457 visa workers who claimed their employer stole their wages have reached a settlement with him.
The amount of the settlement, reached through the Industrial Relations Court, is confidential but it is understood that it covers a substantial portion of what Gong Wei and Huang Jiandong claimed they were owed.
In September, The Age revealed that Mr Gong, 32, and Mr Huang, 37, had discovered, after losing their jobs with stoneware company Elite Marble & Granite, that their bank accounts had been emptied of more than $30,000 each believed they had earned.
Their employer, Frank Wang from Sydney, admitted that he had controlled the men's ATM cards but said the men had spent the cash themselves. The men's group certificates showed they were meant to have been paid $55,000 each.
Since then, Mr Gong and Mr Huang have employed desperate means to stay in Australia while pursuing their claim.
They were made homeless after being evicted from their Sydney house in September, but were given temporary accommodation by the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union. Their visas were cancelled by the Department of Immigration but, through pro bono work from solicitor Daniel Sheen of the legal firm Austin Haworth and Lexon, they gained extensions through the Migration Review Tribunal.
With Mr Sheen they followed the matter through Bankstown police without success. The IRC had them negotiate with Mr Wang, and settlement offers were refused. Finally, on Friday last week, they reached a happy ending.
Their case attracted local and international media attention, with television stations from Hong Kong and China reporting on their plight. Austin Haworth and Lexon last night hosted the two men at a celebratory banquet.
The CFMEU has called on both the previous Coalition government and the new Labor Government to conduct a full inquiry into the 457 scheme.