Nelson Silos in court

June 22, 2017

The Fair Work Ombudsman has taken legal action against a Rochester silo manufacturer, alleging it underpaid two workers a total of almost $13000 despite having previously been put on notice to pay workers their lawful entitlements.

Facing the Federal Circuit Court is Lindsay F. Nelson Manufacturing, which trades as Nelson Silos.

Also facing court are one of the company’s directors and part-owners, Eric Frederick Nelson, and its logistics manager, David Whitehead.

The Fair Work Ombudsman alleges the company underpaid two workers a total of $12958 between 2012 and 2016.

A casual driver who assisted with delivering silos was allegedly underpaid $4436 and a full-time turner and fitter involved in their manufacture was allegedly underpaid $8522.

Fair Work Ombudsman inspectors investigated after the workers lodged requests for assistance.

It is alleged the driver was paid a flat rate of $20.62 for all hours worked but was entitled to minimum casual rates of $23.46 for local driving work, minimum casual rates of $32.38 for long distance driving work and overtime rates of up to $39.42.

Overtime meal allowances and casual rates for loading and unloading work were allegedly also underpaid.

The turner and fitter was allegedly underpaid his accrued annual leave entitlements on termination of employment.

The employees have been partially back-paid, but most of the alleged underpayment remains outstanding.

It is alleged that Nelson Silos also failed to comply with three Notices to Produce employment documents issued by inspectors during the investigation.

Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James said a key factor in the decision to take legal action was that the company, Mr Nelson and Mr Whitehead had previously been educated by inspectors and put on notice to pay employees lawful minimum entitlements.

Inspectors provided the education in the context of investigating more than 30 underpayment allegations from workers relating to Nelson Silos dating back to 1998.

The Fair Work Ombudsman also seeks orders for the company to commission an external audit of its compliance with workplace laws and for managerial staff to undertake workplace relations training.

The matter is listed for a directions hearing in the Federal Circuit Court in Melbourne on July 24.

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