A 24 year-old whistle-blower who was sacked after exposing widespread exploitation of cleaners at retail icon Myer will return to work on Monday after winning huge community support.
Rafael Colobon, a Myer cleaner, was sacked after revealing dozens of cleaners were being ripped off through subcontracting and sham contracts at the stores. Mr Colobon himself was underpaid by at least $7000 over a period of three months while working at Myer Melbourne.
On Tuesday Mr Colobon launched Federal Court action seeking to be urgently reinstated, arguing he was unlawfully sacked for speaking out.
Mr Colobon will return to work at Myer from Monday, pending his full case against his employer in December.
Mr Colobon won huge support online for his push to be reinstated. Almost 4000 people signed his online petition to Myer. Supporters also took to social media pushing Myer to #ReinstateRaf, just as the retail icon launched its Christmas shopping marketing blitz.
“This is a victory for any worker who wants to speak out about being ripped-off and mistreated at work” said Jess Walsh, Victorian Secretary of United Voice - The Cleaners Union.
“This has been the year of rip-offs and exploitation in Australian workplaces like 7-Eleven, Pizza Hut and Myer too. Big companies hide the rip-offs behind layers of subbies and sham contracts.”
“People rely on these insecure jobs to get by and they’re scared to speak out. Right now, no one will take responsibility for what’s happening to them. Everyone’s looking the other way”.
“Rafael decided enough is enough, and had the courage to stand up. It’s time for these big companies – and indeed the government – to take a strong stand too against fear and insecurity in our workplaces.”
Mr Colobon said: “I am so happy. I wasn’t just fighting to get my job back. I was fighting for everyone’s right to speak out when employers do the wrong thing, like putting us on sham contracts and underpaying us. I’m so grateful for the support I’ve received from across Australia.”
- Last week the ABC revealed Myer rejected an offer from the Ombudsman to enter into a “Voluntary Compliance Deed” to help the retail giant ensure its cleaners are not exploited.
- In 2014, Myer was investigated separately by the Ombudsman who revealed cleaners were being underpaid by a different subcontractor. The Fair Work Ombudsman announced earlier this week it has commenced a fresh investigation into Myer’s cleaning contracts.
- On 22 October, ABC’s 7:30 program revealed Myer cleaners were employed on sham contracts by a subcontract cleaning company and earning a flat rate of $20, between $4 and $19 an hour less than the award depending on shifts, without superannuation or paid leave. Rafael Colobon featured in the story with his identity hidden.
- On 20 November Rafael was sacked. In the meeting, his managers said they knew he was the cleaner who spoke out on 7:30.
- The Court prosecution will continue in mid-December, where United Voice lawyers will continue to push for fines, and for Mr Colobon’s reinstatement to be made permanent.