Workers from the recently liquidated food chain Doughnut Time have been forced to turn to crowdfunding in an effort to make some of the thousands of dollars in pack pay they are owed.
The crowdfunding effort is looking to raise $200,000 — the amount employees say they are owed. Staff say they also haven't been paid superannuation for the last 15 months.
One high-ranking employee who did not wish to be named told BuzzFeed News a large majority of the kitchen staff had been "screwed over".
"We think it's around $100,000 just in kitchen wages," they said. "The rest is front of house. In Sydney, it was just one, maybe two, people working in the kitchen who were Australian citizens."
Chris Boucher, the former manager of the Manly Doughnut Time branch, estimated 75% of the overall workforce were on visas. "The only route we have left to take is through raising this money ourselves through a GoFundMe page," he told BuzzFeed News via email.
"We hope that through the publicity this story has already brought us, that enough people will be touched, that we'll be able to raise the money to cover our wages, and let these foreigners that have contributed to the economy, know that Australians are generous and stand up people."
Boucher said the plight of Doughnut Time's workers demonstrated how little protection foreign workers were given by the Australian government. "This must have happened many times before," he said. "It's a tragedy."
The past week has seen great confusion over Doughnut Time's exact financial situation, after hundreds of staff were promised tens of thousands of dollars in unpaid wages just days before they lost their jobs.
Originally, the doughnut empire was sold by entrepreneur Damian Griffiths to the company's former CEO, Dan Strachotta, but that deal fell through and liquidator Michael Caspaney was appointed last Friday.
Caspaney told ABC News "there is no money anywhere".
On Monday employees remained unsure if they would be receiving any of the outstanding money owed – particularly because at least employee was paid after holding conversations with Strachotta.
Sydney worker Poppy Gordon was contacted by Strachotta last week and the would-be owner of company offered to pay her owed wages in full, as she was on a working holiday visa and so did not qualify for payment through a Fair Entitlements Guarantee (FEG).
The Australian government provides a FEG to people who have lost their job due to bankruptcy or the liquidation of their employer. However, when other workers on working holiday visas contacted Strachotta to be paid they were told it was not possible.
"It's ridiculous," Sydney store worker Franka Deluca told BuzzFeed News. "No statement from anyone. Our Sydney manager doesn't talk to us or anyone else."
Brad Esposito is a news reporter for BuzzFeed and is based in Sydney, Australia.
Contact Brad Esposito at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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