23-year-old Shetty is not the sole case as several other migrants complained against the Escarpment Group
An Indian student who was doing his internship with a prominent hotel chain in Australia is staring at deportation for an alleged complaint against his fixed salary and being told to pay a higher rent by his employer, reported The Sydney Morning Herald. Reports in the paper revealed alleged ill-treatment of hotel workers, usually from South Asia, employed via the Australian Internship programme.
Holding a Bachelors in Hotel Management from India, the 23-year-old intern named Narendra Shetty was signed through Australian Internships at the Escarpment Group of hotels in a 52-week training contract in the Blue Mountains. Shetty was in Australia on a 407 visa that lets migrants work for an Australian employer with on-the-job training underway.
It is also called a training visa. He reportedly paid over $6,500 for the internship programme and his training contract including an yearly salary of $49,943. It also included a full boarding, a twin-share place with three meals every day.
However, for Shetty, things were not as it seemed. He was required to shell out $480 every week for a shared bedroom and food at the Hydro Majestic Hotel situated in Medlow Bath. The rent is nearly $60 which is more than the market rent for an entire house in the Blue Mountains. When Shetty declined to pay, he was told to leave the property.
When he lodged his complaint to the Australian Internships, they reportedly replied that “time here in Australia is focused on training. It should not be focused on remuneration.” However, finally Narendra Shetty was invited to work at Katoomba’s Lilianfels hotel where he paid his employer $250 every week as rent which was not inclusive of meals.
He was then told to sign another document to work for a flat yearly salary which he declined as the offer was not including paid overtime.
Escarpment Group fired Shetty on March 13, citing “poor work performance”. Shetty then applied for a student visa and entered in a cooking course in Sydney, which was dismissed last week. And now, Shetty’s training visa is in doldrums with the Australian Department of Home Affairs considering canceling his 407 internship visa, with the risk of deportation staring him in the face.
Shetty did not give any “concrete evidence and not hearsay” to counter the allegations, the department has reportedly said.
Seeing the state of affairs, The Sydney Morning Herald further pointed out that Shetty is not the sole case as several other migrants complained against the Escarpment Group. Another migrant employee named Arindam Biswas, who worked as a desk clerk for the group, was in a similar situation when he was reportedly asked to pay above-market rent.
He too was fired when he filed a complaint to Australian Internships about the alleged mistreatment.
With more cases tumbling out, the Australian Department of Home Affairs and Fair Work Ombudsman are probing the Escarpment Group for underpaying and abusing its employees or interns, including those on 407 visas in the country.
Allan Fels, who is the head of the Migrant Worker Taskforce in Australian government, has forewarned that cases such as these jeopardies the country’s reputation in South Asia.
Meanwhile, the Indian Consulate in Australia has also taken notice. A spokesman for the Indian Consulate General in Sydney was quoted as saying that the mission is concerned with the ill-treatment of Indian workers.