THE nation’s workplace watchdogs are in Warrnambool and they want you to know.
The second in command of the Fair Work Ombudsman was in Warrnambool yesterday with one message for bosses and unions alike — play by the rules.
Warrnambool’s Fair Work office, hidden on the second floor of Bayside City Plaza, hears an average of 50 complaints and inquiries each month.
That’s a fraction of the 25,000 claims heard overall each year.
“That ranges from employers who underpay their staff to unions that take unlawful industrial action,” Deputy Fair Work Ombudsman (operations) Michael Campbell said. “They can expect this agency to respond with some aggression.”
Of the 25,000 claims only 50 a year end up before a judge.
The ombudsman is issuing legal action against one local employer.
“There’s one matter that we are prosecuting at the moment and we’re waiting for hearings. We’ve got some current investigations that we’re looking at and we’d be looking at some heavy enforcement,” Fair Work Ombudsman team leader Roger Detering said.
Workplace issues reflect the region’s industries covering tourism, hospitality and agriculture.
“Across the country the main area is hospitality. It varies region to region. This area is very heavy into pastoral. Warrnambool does have a very high presence of tourists, horticultural and pastoral,” Mr Detering said.
The Warrnambool office has been open since 2006 with three inspectors covering western Victoria.
Mr Campbell said young workers and migrants with poor English skills remained the most vulnerable workers, but stressed that malice was absent from most claims.