Hunter Biada workers back-paid more than $100k

The Baiada plant at Beresfield.

The Baiada plant at Beresfield.

Poultry company Baiada has recovered more than $100,000 in wages for underpaid Hunter workers, the Fair Work Ombudsman has confirmed.

Ombudsman Natalie James released a report on Monday that showed the company, which has a plant in Beresfield, had retrieved $129,566 in back pay for 46 workers who were short-changed last year.

Fair Work entered into a compliance partnership with Baiada in late 2015 after reports surfaced that some of the company’s contractors had taken advantage of overseas workers and employees had been underpaid by thousands of dollars.

Ms James said Baiada had retrieved most of the back pay from its contractors.

In her report, she noted that Baiada had implemented important reforms to safeguard against future exploitation of employees.

“Some contractors have sought to circumvent the new systems, for example, by demanding workers pay ‘cash back’ to their contractor r swipe off the electronic system and continue to work for below minimum rates,” the report said.

“Baiada has detected and acted in response to such behaviour, including terminating contractors.

“Throughout the partnership, Baiada has taken action to address such behaviour, in some cases taking steps additional to what is required by the strict letter of the Proactive Compliance Deed, and reported the details of each step to the Fair Work Ombudsman.”

When the inquiry uncovered issues last November, Baiada said it had “a moral and ethical responsibility” to require high standards of conduct from everyone involved in its enterprise.

Nationwide, Baiada has retrieved back-pay worth more than $218,000 for 91 workers since Fair Work stepped in.

In a statement on Monday, Ms James said the company had introduced a “stringent contractor compliance system” for all its processing plants.

“We are pleased that in this latest report the Fair Work Ombudsman has seen that these measures have been effective and have made a positive impact,” the ombudsman said.

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