The Fair Work Ombudsman’s pursuit of the companies involved in labour exploitation has resulted in payment of outstanding wages, fines and reputational damage to some big brands. In 2015-16 it recovered A$27.3 million dollars for 11,158 workers.
While this is not insignificant to the workers involved, it represents a small proportion of those likely to have been victims of wage theft (as detailed in the latest Senate report).
While trade unions have had some success in retrieving unpaid entitlements (in 2015 -16 United Voice NSW recovered A$1.8 million in unpaid wages), they too are constrained by their limited resources. Unionisation is declining and vulnerable workers are spread across thousands of small workplaces.
The government meanwhile is doing nothing to fix the problem, by limiting resources it is encouraging exploitation of workers.