The Age | 2 June 2013
Hundreds of international students, many already struggling financially, have lost up to three weeks’ pay after the collapse of one of Australia’s largest cleaning companies. And unlike their Australian colleagues, they won’t be eligible for the government program that fast-tracks payment of wages they are owed.
The failure of Swan Services has put a spotlight on a cleaning industry in crisis, where low pay rates and unfriendly hours see most work now being done by a foreign-born workforce and the union representing cleaners says the same foreign students who provide a crucial boost for the Victorian economy are increasingly being treated like ”cash cows”.
Insolvency professionals and the union now say these international workers should be eligible for the taxpayer-funded scheme that bails out Australian citizens at companies that go under.
About half of Swan’s 600 Victorian workers were foreign students. They earned between $17 and $24 an hour cleaning offices or shopping centres.
These students will not have access to the federal government’s Fair Entitlements Guarantee, a fund that pays out workplace entitlements to people whose employers go out of business.