Mr Edgington, the first witness at the Ballarat hearing, said people were badly treated and underpaid across several industries. Ballarat Trades and Labour Council secretary Brett Edgington has used the Victorian government’s labour hire and insecure work inquiry to make explosive claims about the local treatment of workers.
“You’ve got underpayment, where a worker is paid cash-in-hand between six and 10 dollars an hour, and there’s no tax, no super,” he said.
“This is at crisis point and rampant. A very significant number of businesses in hospitality, retail, the domestic building industry (are underpaying workers).”
“A lot of the schemes we’ve discovered are not just oversights by the employer.”
The inquiry, which is visiting regional cities after Melbourne hearings, will continue all day, including workers themselves.
Mr Edgington said a The Courier article in December had spurred on many young workers to come and see him to raise issues of underpayment and poor treatment, with people coming “almost every day”.
He also said the problem was “worse” in Ballarat and other regional centres than in Melbourne because employers could blacklist workers from whole industries.