You know one of the things that really irks me at the moment is this current stick waving by Governments both State and Federal about how they are going to tackle underpaying employers the so called ‘wage thieves’ and hold them to account
Sure, whilst I acknowledge that there are unscrupulous employers and a fair percentage of the persistently naive who fall into this bracket of underpayers, one of the real drivers of this practice remains unremarked, unnoticed or ignored.
Can you guess what or who I am referring to here? ……….No?
It’s the Government itself both State and Federal. How is this possible?
Speak to anyone who has gone after a Government tender and they will tell you. There is only one criteria that Government Departments are really interested in when awarding contracts and that is the price. They don’t care, have no mandate to care or have any interest at all in ensuring when they award their tender to the lowest bidder that the employees who will do the work are actually being paid correctly. I have at least 10 clients right now who have been told to their faces that what they pay their guys is up to them, as long as they deliver the cheapest quote, the work is theirs. This ‘government-sanctioned' wage theft is a real and ongoing issue but you won’t hear a mention of it in the press.
There are a multitude of SME’s out there who are paying at least the Award minimum wages to their guys who have lost a tender to a cheaper competitor based almost exclusively on the cost of their workers. Heaven forbid that you pay higher than that because you won’t get a look in!
If the State and Federal pollies and IR ministers want to gain cheap political points hammering employers, they really need to look at their own practices which provide a solid foundation for wage underpayment and worker rip off.
As wide spread as this knowledge is to anyone who has gone through a tender submission process and lost, it cannot be argued that State and Federal Governments are ignorant of it. It should a mandatory requirement that any process of evaluation of tender submission MUST include an audit of the wages being paid to employees to ensure at least minimum compliance.
THEN you might be on a strong path to true wage compliance as well as a level playing field for awarding of contracts to SME’s.