$3 an hour while working holidays, overtime on an oil rig: companies face fines

Three companies, which have tried to hold off legal judgement for two years over charges that they underpaid oil rig workers, is set to have their case heard by the Australian Federal Court.

Back in June 2011 Australia's Fair Work Ombudsman charged a group of Australian and Asian companies of underpaying four Filipino workers a total of $127,425.

Four men were working as specialist marine painters on two North West Shelf oil rigs between July, 2009 and March, 2011. The Fair Work Ombudsman alleges that the men, who were in Australia on sub-class 456 visas, worked 12 hours a day, seven days a week but were paid only US$900 per month.

The companies charged are Hong Kong-based company Pocomwell Ltd; Philippines-based company Supply Oilfield & Marine Personnel Services Inc; Western Australian-based company SurveySpec Pty Ltd; and SurveySpec’s sole director, Thomas Civiello.

The companies had previously sought a stay of proceedings stating that their unique work places meant that Australia labour law was not applicable; Philippine employment law were the only work requirements.

The two oil rigs were operated by international shipping company Maersk.

The three companies each face maximum penalties of $33,000 per breach and Mr Civiello faces maximum penalties of $6600 per breach.

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