The action follows an investigation by officials into the two cleaning contractors that included a surprise inspection at the ground after the 2014 AFL preliminary final between Hawthorn and Port Adelaide © Press Association Images
The action follows an investigation by officials into the two cleaning contractors that included a surprise inspection at the ground after the 2014 AFL preliminary final between Hawthorn and Port Adelaide © Press Association Images

MCG cleaning contractor faces court over staff payment claims

Adam Leach is a freelance business journalist
25 January 2016

The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) has launched legal action against the contractor responsible for cleaning the Melbourne Cricket Ground over allegations it underpaid staff.

The ombudsman is claiming ISS Facility Services Australia – which is contracted directly by the historic sporting venue – was aware that its subcontractor, First Group of Companies held back AUS$37k in wages owed to its staff.

The action follows an investigation by officials into the two cleaning contractors that included a surprise inspection at the ground after the 2014 AFL preliminary final between Hawthorn and Port Adelaide (pictured). The legal action alleges that 11 overseas workers were underpaid on their hourly rates, casual loadings allowances and penalty rates such as weekend and night pay premiums. It is alleged one employee was short-changed by AUS$7,272.

ISS will face charges of accessory to the underpayments and breaching contract laws relating to sham contracting and frequency of pay.

Ombudsman Natalie James said: “We are committed to scrutinising supply chains and subcontracting arrangements and holding companies accountable for business practices that undermine compliance.

“Companies found to be profiting from the underpayment of workers in their supply chains face legal risks, and risks to reputation and impact on their bottom line.”

In a statement, ISS said it took action as soon as it was made aware of the issue. “ISS took immediate action, including directly employing all those cleaners that were affected by the sub-contracting arrangement, which was immediately cancelled as soon as the allegations were made,” it said.

The MCG’s owner, the Melbourne Cricket Club, said: "We have contractual arrangements in place to ensure that contractors meet their employment obligations. If there is evidence that a contractor is not meeting their employment obligations, we will investigate the matter and act accordingly."

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