Fair Work to probe hotel lockdown guards’ wage theft claims

A wage theft investigation has been launched into security companies hired by the Victorian Government to monitor its bungled hotel quarantine program.

Allegations of illegal cash payments to guards, undertrained workers and billing rorts were exposed in the fallout of the quarantine debacle.

Now the Fair Work Ombudsman has launched a formal­ probe to investigate the claims.

FWO executive director Steven Ronson confirmed the investigation in a letter to shadow attorney-general Ed O'Donohue, who called for an inquiry.

The investigation will also examine security firms used by the NSW government for its hotel quarantine prog­ram.

"The aim of the investigation will be to determine whether security workers have received their lawful entitlements in accord with the work they have performed," Mr Ronson said.

It has also been alleged that security companies involved in the program exploited the pandemic by charging taxpayers for shifts never worked.

The rort, known as "ghosting", led to hazardous understaffing in hotels, with those who questioned operators even being threatened.

Other alarming claims, includin­g that hotel guards slept with guests and that others­ had just six hours of infection­-­control training, prompted Premier Daniel Andrews­ to launch a $3m inquiry into the program.

It is being conducted by retired­ judge Jennifer Coate.

But there were concerns the inquiry's terms of reference would not allow a proper examination of the form and type of remuneration for those performing security work.

Mr O'Donohue said the Fair Work investigation ­"further highlights just how Daniel Andrews botched his hotel quarantine program".

 

shannon.deery@news.com.au

Originally published as Fair Work to probe hotel quarantine guards' wage theft claims


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