Aussie hotel group hits back at worker exploitation allegations

Aussie hotel company Escarpment Group has denied underpaying or exploiting any of its foreign workers while being investigated over the allegations.

According to a report by The Sydney Morning Herald, Escarpment Group – which includes luxury hotels in the Blue Mountains such as the Hydro Majestic in Medlow Bath, and Lilianfels and Echoes in Katoomba – is clawing back migrant workers’ wages by overpricing their accommodation and not paying them for overtime.

The SMH investigation found that the hotel group deducts $480 a week from their pay for half of a small bedroom which they share with another worker, and are threatened with termination of their contracts and visas if they moved out to seek alternative accommodation.

Responding via a statement, Escarpment Group said it was working through allegations, including those from a disgruntled ex-trainee, with Fair Work and the Department of Home Affairs.

“Escarpment Group works with established internship agencies authorised by the Australian government to provide assistance to trainees seeking work-based training in Australia with a structured learning program designed to meet their training needs,” the statement read.

“Escarpment Group deny underpaying or exploiting any of our employees or trainees, including those on 407 visas.”

The group said it does not make any deduction from wages for accommodation, meals and other services provided to trainees, nor any underpayment of wages.

Escarpment said boarding cost is “a separate arrangement which trainees approve and pay for from their own bank account, and charged at market rate comparable to the Blue Mountains International Hotel Management school”.

The group also said it does not charge any fees for trainees.

The SMH has since reported that staff at Escarpment have been threatened with legal action and fines if they talk to the media about the allegations.