Posted December 03, 2015 15:48:40

A Melbourne business with a multi-million dollar contract to clean the city’s train fleet is being investigated over allegations it underpays its largely foreign workforce.

Key points:

  • Metro is auditing Transclean after employees underpayment allegations
  • Some employees allege they operate as numerous as 55 hours per week
  • Transclean rejects the allegations, says ‘no-one particular was underpaid’

Court documents reveal that Metro, the operator of Melbourne’s train program, is conducting an extensive audit of Transclean following the ABC’s coverage of an unfair dismissal case brought by a Pakistani Australian who desires to be identified only as Asim.

A single of the central claims created by Asim in the Fair Perform proceedings was that he was unfairly dismissed by Transclean after he failed to spot a safety flag on a train.

Transclean initially rejected the suggestion that Asim was an employee, pointing to a deed of agreement he signed with the organization in 2013, which stated that he was a subcontractor.

Even so, when Asim’s case was heard by Fair Perform Commissioner John Ryan in October, lawyers for Transclean conceded that Asim was in reality an employee.

This essential concession could expose the firm to a raft of new claims from some of its 500 cleaners.

Asim’s case was settled on the opening day of the Fair Function hearing. The terms of the settlement are confidential.

Nonetheless, following the ABC’s coverage of the case, lawyers for Transclean issued legal proceedings against Asim and his industrial relations representative, Garry Dircks, alleging they broke the confidentiality of the settlement and created a number of false and misleading statements in the original story.

Mr Dircks and Asim each deny the allegations.

Former Transclean employee has won a confidential settlement over his unfair dismissal. Photo: A former Transclean employee won a confidential settlement more than his unfair dismissal. (ABC News)

In an affidavit lodged in the Supreme Court in late October, Transclean’s managing director George Haritos claimed his company was broken by what he described as false claims created by Asim about work conditions at Transclean.

Mr Haritos stated that as a result of the publicity surrounding the case Metro had commenced an audit of his business that threatened his company’s profitable contract to clean the city’s train fleet.

Sammie Black, a Metro spokesperson, told the ABC that all contractors were required to spend their personnel in accordance with relevant employment laws.

“Metro does not condone contractors underpaying their personnel,” she stated.

“Metro is currently investigating allegations created against Transclean.”

Claims that some cleaners work seven day weeks ‘false’

In his affidavit, Mr Haritos also rejected a quantity of claims made by Asim about situations for workers at the company — namely that they often operate seven nights a week and for as lengthy as 55 hours per week.

Monday to Friday we had been working at daytime, and Monday to Sunday the entire week we have been working evening time as properly.

Former Transclean employee

However, the ABC has spoken to a quantity of former employees of Transclean who help Asim’s claims about the function conditions at the organization.

Ali, who did not want to use his actual name, worked for Transclean for 12 months till, he mentioned, he was abruptly sacked in late 2014.

He said that a Transclean employees member threatened to kill him when he informed them that he was going to refer the matter to Fair Operate Australia.

Ali mentioned he frequently worked seven nights a week and as many as 60 hours a week, cleaning trains for the organization.

Train cleaners at work in Melbourne Photo: Transclean rejected allegations that some workers were doing 55 hour weeks. (ABC News)

“Monday to Friday we have been working at daytime, and Monday to Sunday the complete week we have been functioning night time as nicely,” he mentioned.

Ali stated he had been created to sign a deed of agreement that effectively produced him a subcontractor to Transclean, so he was not paid superannuation or covered by WorkCover insurance coverage.

In spite of becoming considered a subcontractor by Transclean, Ali mentioned he and the other workers in no way supplied an invoice for services rendered to Transclean.

Labor law professional Professor John Howe, from Melbourne University, mentioned firms could save a lot of cash by categorising workers as independent contractors.

“If folks are being employed in name as subcontractors but they are really staff that is a breach of the law because what you are performing then is avoiding the legal entitlements that are attached to employment,” Professor Howe said.

Transclean rejects allegations it underpaid workers

Transclean declined to be interviewed, but stated in a statement to the ABC that it refuted the allegations.

“No-one at Transclean has been underpaid,” basic manager Nelson Aguila said.

“Transclean meets all the statutory specifications… Transclean has evidenced this with payroll and employment information provided to Metro.”

Mr Haritos and his business AES Solutions were targeted in raids by the Australian Federal Police in 2009 following the Australian Tax Office (ATO) hit Mr Haritos, his company partner Alex Kyritis and their firm AES Services with an unpaid tax bill and related penalties of more than $ 28 million.

Mr Haritos is still fighting the bill in court, but the alleged non payment of tax was linked to revenue that AES produced from its contract to clean trains for MTE/Connex, the previous operator of Melbourne’s trains network.

The ATO alleged that Mr Haritos and his company partner utilized a Westpac enterprise account to create cheques for money, with out declaring the income and therefore avoiding income tax and GST payments.

The business denied the allegation and said the funds deposited in the account have been employed for reputable organizations expenditures.

Court documents also reveal that Metro has previously held critical concerns about Transclean’s efficiency.

In 2012 the organization took action in the Supreme Court to quit Metro from tearing up its multi-million dollar cleaning contract over a series of breaches to the terms of its contract.

Among September 2011 and June 2012, Metro sent three formal warnings to Transclean over its failure to meet its standards.

However, Transclean’s lawyers sought an injunction in the Supreme Court preventing Metro from tearing up the contract.

The case settled out of court and Transclean continued to hold the contract.

Subjects: work, community-and-society, melbourne-3000

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