A series of recent reports has highlighted how the supply chain, often a source of insecurity for Australia’s economy, has been neglected by employers.
The supply chain can include food, construction, manufacturing and retail.
These jobs are often high-skilled, highly skilled and high-skill, meaning they require an advanced degree.
But for those on low wages, it can be hard to get a decent pay packet.
“You might be paid $30 an hour but you don’t really know how much of it is going to be there because you’re not really being paid that much,” one worker told the ABC.
Another worker told a Senate inquiry in 2015 that when she arrived in Australia from Afghanistan in 2008, her employers gave her a $20 an hour job.
But when she returned in 2012, she was told she would get $12 an hour.
It took two years before she got her first $50,000 a year pay packet, and she has since been paid $200 a week.
Many of the companies she worked for did not pay her a living wage, leaving her with no choice but to leave.
‘It was very upsetting’: Former employer tells ABC of low pay, poor working conditions in Australia’s major supply chains source ABC Business article A year ago, Australia’s most senior executive at the country’s largest manufacturing company, Liddell, spoke to a Senate committee about the low pay and low working conditions he and his colleagues endured in Australia.
Liddell was one of the biggest employers of Australian workers, employing over 5,000 people in the mining sector.
In 2013, Leddell paid the lowest wages in the world, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO), and many of its workers had no access to safe working conditions, according a study by the Australian Chamber of Commerce.
There were also serious concerns about the safety of Liddel’s factories.
Workers were regularly poisoned by chemicals or burned to death at the company’s mine in the Pilbara region.
Despite the company paying a $1 million compensation to one worker, it also failed to compensate her for five years of legal and psychological counselling.
Now, the company is in the middle of a legal battle to overturn the 2014 decision to dismiss the worker, who is suing for $4 million.
“[Liddel] said that the company was going to change things but it never did,” her lawyer, Pauline Pynchon, told the Senate committee.
Pynch on the Liddells case: “I think there are a number of reasons for this, including that the Lids [company] are the most expensive employer in Australia.”
But her lawyer also said that while the company had “a lot of money” and the “highest rate of pay in Australia”, the Lidell worker had been left in “a situation where she was really struggling”.
“It was a very emotional and difficult experience,” she said.
Ms Pynachon said that Liddella’s chief executive, David Hinchliffe, was “in denial” about the situation at the mine.
He told the committee that Lidells “tried to do what it took to make money” but the “residents in the area [were] upset and angry” that he had not done more.
When asked if there was any way Liddels compensation could be lowered, Hinchly told the inquiry: “That’s not something we’re thinking about.”
He also denied that he or Liddll had given a “fair share” of workers’ wages to their union, the Local Union of Construction, Forestry and Mining Workers (LUCMF).
“We didn’t pay any money to the LUCMF, we paid a fair share of their wages,” Hinchli told the senate.
Mr Hinchll’s response was widely criticised by Liddelly workers.
During a hearing in 2016, a former employee told the court: “Liddells pay system was not fair and the company made a huge amount of money from us, but when we left, the money wasn’t there to pay our rent and bills.”
In March 2017, the Leddells’ compensation fund was dissolved and replaced by the Department of Fair Work and Industry’s Fair Work Fund.
Employees were also awarded up to $5,000 in back pay, as well as the costs of legal action against the company.
However, Lydell is not alone in struggling to keep its workers happy.
Australian Workers Union president, Paul McVety, told news.com.au that a lack of pay is a major barrier to working.
“A lot of the issues we’re talking about are about low pay for the people working for Lydells, and that’s a huge issue for us,” he said.