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Taiwanese workers mistreated by SA salon

AAP logoAAP 31/08/2016

The owner of a hair salon in Adelaide has been fined more than $100,000 for exploiting two Taiwanese hairdressers in what a judge has ruled was "self-serving subterfuge".

Wei Wang and his family company Sonisolar Pty Ltd recruited the pair in their 20s from Taiwan to work at his Elizabeth salon while on working holiday visas.

The hairdressers were required to work a 50-hour week over six days between September 2013 and May 2014 and were paid less than $10.50 an hour, as they were wrongly treated as contractors rather than employees.

The Fair Work Ombudsman took action legal against Mr Wang after he refused to pay the workers the required amount.

The Federal Circuit Court fined Mr Wang and his company $112,000 and ordered them to back-pay the workers $40,000.

Judge Stewart Brown rejected Mr Wang's claims that, as a Chinese immigrant, he did not understand his obligations under Australia's workplace laws.

Judge Brown said the exploitation was a "self-serving piece of subterfuge."

"Mr Wang was content to arrange his affairs so that the two individuals were paid a fraction of their entitlements," he said.

"He knew that this was an exercise in artificiality, which suited him."

Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James said the wages of people in Australia on working holiday visas were being investigated by an inquiry launched last year.

"Minimum wage rates apply to everyone in Australia - including visa-holders - and they are not negotiable," she said.

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