Dozens of protesters have again gathered in Adelaide’s Chinatown district urging better wage protections for vulnerable workers, especially migrants and international students.

Key points:

  • Rally organisers called for an end to systemic underpayment of international students
  • The protest was prompted by a viral video that showed an alleged assault
  • The SA Government says agencies including the Fair Work Commission are empowered to tackle the problem

The rally came after an alleged assault on a worker at Chinatown business Fun Tea last week, which has sparked discussion about alleged wage theft among the international student community.

Footage of the incident, which went viral on social media, shows a verbal dispute between a man and a young woman who makes claims about wage theft.

The man can be heard denying the claims.

The video then shows another man stepping in and striking the woman in the face before kicking her to the ground.

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Police are investigating the alleged assault, which has also prompted discussion about wage theft.

That man — a 39-year-old from Glen Osmond — has since been arrested and charged with assault.

Fun Tea has taped a note to the door acknowledging “a complaint about the employee’s pay or rates of pay” but said the claim was unrelated to the alleged assault.

Rally demands ‘fair go’

Protesters today returned to Chinatown, carrying placards with slogans including “fair go” and “modern slavery”.

Say Leng Kapsis is the founder of Fair Go SA, which provides advice to vulnerable workers.(ABC News: Sara Tomevska)

Organisers of the rally urged a broader community debate on systemic underpayment, saying they had received “thousands” of reports from migrant workers receiving less than the minimum wage.

“We need to try very hard to encourage them to really stand up to speak out [about] their victim experience, and also encourage them to take any actions,” said Say Leng Kapsis, who founded workers support group Fair Go SA.

“Wage theft is a crime.”

Ms Kapsis said many vulnerable victims were afraid of being blacklisted or blackmailed by unscrupulous employers.

“They could spread rumours against these wage theft victims,” she said.

‘We need better laws’

Labor spokeswoman Irene Pnevmatikos said there needed to be a more legislative solution.

“We’re continuing to look into the issue of wage theft,” she said.

“At the end of the day, it’s abundantly clear we need better laws, we need tougher regulations that will protect workers.”

Jackie Chen from the SA Labour Info Hub works on behalf of exploited young workers.(ABC News: Sara Tomevska)

Human Services Minister Michelle Lensink said existing mechanisms, including SafeWork SA and the Fair Work Commission, were empowered to handle wage theft allegations.

“All employers need to abide by laws that already exist in terms of wage theft,” she said.

“We have the independent regulators, and they have significant powers to manage these matters.

SafeWork SA is investigating the incident and the matter has been referred to the Fair Work Ombudsman.