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A Filipino couple employed by a motel chain in country Victoria approached Migrante Australia for help after their employment was unexpectedly terminated in July while they were overseas.

Myrna and Rene (not their real names), hired under the S457 visa scheme in early 2013 as a couple ‘Resident Managers, both worked an average of fourteen hours a day over six days, and sometimes seven days a week. Myrna earned only the basic ordinary wage for 40 hours a week and Rene had no pay at all.

As Rene did not receive any salary, both had to share the wage that Myrna received from the company, which also caused financial and personal strain in their relationship. Rene recounted his experience: ‘Our financial situation in Australia brought chaos to our relationship; only she is receiving salary despite the two of us working long hours daily. I have to solicit from her everything I wanted to send to my children because our employer is not giving me my own salary.’

Rene approached their employer to ask for his own wage. His employer said that if he wants his own pay, it has to be deducted from Myrna’s pay to which Rene did not agree. Rene planned to leave the hotel and look for other employment. To appease Myrna and Rene’s frustration, their employer gave them a leave of absence which allowed them to have a holiday in the Philippines.

While Myrna and Rene were in the Philippines, Myrna received an email from their employer terminating their employment.

According to Myrna and Rene, there are other couples hired by this motel company that apparently have the same arrangements as they did. This company may be earning more by exploiting and abusing their workers.

Migrante Australia has dealt with various forms of abuses by employers of workers especially temporary visa holders. This is the first time that Migrante has come across this kind of abuse – enslaving workers with no compensation.

When asked, why they remained in the employer company for almost seventeen months, Myrna and Rene replied that during their first months they were paying off their debts so they needed to stay. They were also hoping that by bearing their difficult situation, their employer will eventually sponsor them to become permanent residents.

Migrante is currently assisting the couple in their needs. Migrante is also helping Myrna and Rene claim remuneration for their unpaid hours, benefits and entitlements denied by the employer and seek justice for being unjustly terminated.

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