Backpacker accuses cafe chain of illegally low pay in Australia

Backpacker accuses cafe chain of illegally low pay in Australia

TAIPEI, Taiwan - A Taiwanese man on a working holiday in Australia accused a branch of 85 Degrees Coffee (85度C) in Australia of violating the local minimum wage policy, during a press conference held by the Youth Labor Union 95 in Taipei, yesterday.

Allen, a former 85 Degrees Coffee employee, said that the minimum wage in Australia is AU$16.87 (S$18), but 85 Degrees Coffee only paid him AU$12 before tax deductions. Allen added that after working for the company for three months, he was laid off without notice.

A spokesperson from the labour union said that 85 Degrees Coffee is exploiting Taiwanese backpackers and asked the company to publicly apologise, pay the amount owed to its Taiwanese employees and promise to improve working conditions.

Allen reported the case to the Australian government, saying that the company owed him NT$260,000. The government is investigating the claim.

In response to Allen's accusation, 85 Degrees Coffee Chief Marketing Official Chung Ching-ju (鐘靜如) said that the wages offered by the company are in line with the law and the company did not lay Allen off, but rather he left of his own accord.

Chung said that Allen received a weekly wage of AU$640.9 before tax deductions, while working 38 hours per week. On average, Allen's hourly wage was AU$16, in accordance with the minimum wage policy, Chung said.

In response to Allen's accusation that the company owes him money, Chung said that Allen will get the remaining AU$633 after he has completed the resignation process.

Chung added that the company did not terminate Allen's employment; Allen took a week off and did not return for work. The manager contacted him many times via phone and email to no avail.

Chung noted that 85 Degrees Coffee prefers to hire Taiwanese backpackers to help them out during their stay in a foreign country. After this incident, the company will reconsider hiring Taiwanese at their overseas branches in the future.

Allen said that the company hires Taiwanese backpackers because the company can't afford to hire native Australians and pay them the legal amount of salaries.

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