A PERTH man and his cleaning company have been hit with a near-record $306,000 in fines for ripping off young overseas workers as a judge slammed the industry for being “notorious” for exploiting people.
Perth man Blagojce Djoneski has been penalised $51,000 and his company Goldfinger Facility Management $255,000 in the Federal Circuit Court.
Djoneskis’ company had a cleaning contract with The Melbourne Hotel in Perth in 2014.
Four housekeepers, three from South Korea and one from the UK, were in Australia on 417 working holiday visas and were paid nothing for between two and four weeks’ work leaving them owed a combined $9359.
Three of them were aged under 25.
An Indian national employed as a marketing specialist was also paid nothing when entitled to more than $4000 for 18 weeks’ work.
A sixth worker – an Australian citizen who was a general manager at Goldfinger – was paid some wages but short-changed more than $13,000.
The court also ordered the company to rectify $26,627 in underpayments of six workers.
Judge Antoni Lucev said there had been a complete disregard for Goldfinger’s legal obligations as an employer and there had been an absence of any expression of contrition, regret or acceptance of wrongdoing from Djoneski and his company.
“The court also observes that it is now almost notorious that there are significant pockets of non-compliance in relation to the payment of wages and entitlements, either at all or correctly, in the commercial cleaning industry,” he said.
Djoneski was previously banned by ASIC from managing a corporation for three years in May 2010 over his involvement as a director of four failed cleaning companies.
The penalties are the second-largest secured by the Fair Work Ombudsman in a Western Australian case and seventh-largest nationally, three of which involved cleaning businesses.
The largest in WA of $343,860 was secured against a Perth cleaning company Housekeeping Pty Ltd and its manager Catherine Paino-Povey in 2013 for deliberately underpaying six cleaners, including five overseas workers.