Jennifer Rajca, 16 March 2016

Bharat Khanna worked more than 60 hours a week managing a 7-Eleven store while studying full-time at university.

When he challenged the boss over his pay he was told to walk.

Other employees were even made to withdraw some of their wages from ATMs and hand over cash to the franchise owner.

The international student was invited to share his story in Parliament House on Wednesday by federal Labor leader Bill Shorten.

“I would say that the image of Australia is at stake,” Bharat said, warning the federal government there were lots of other people like him.

When he was planning on coming to this “beautiful country” and studying he heard he’d work 20 hours and be paid at the appropriate rate.

But after arriving, he struggled to find work and when he did he was paid $10-11 an hour.

Mr Shorten and his workplace relations spokesman Brendan O’Connor used Bharat’s story – and another from a Queensland hospitality worker – to challenge the government over worker exploitation.

Their experiences revealed an “underbelly” which Mr Turnbull liked to pretend didn’t exist.

“It is not an exciting time,” Mr Shorten said, referring to the prime minister’s description of modern Australia.

Labor senator Doug Cameron on Tuesday introduced to parliament a private bill that aims to crackdown on unscrupulous employers.

The bill increases civil penalties to $32,400 for individuals and $162,000 for corporations who fail to pay workers properly.

It also includes greater protections for workers from sham contracting.

The federal government last year established a ministerial working group to look into protections for vulnerable foreign workers.

Employment Minister Michaelia Cash hit back labelling the “re-announcement” hypocritical.

When Mr Shorten was head of the Australian Workers Union, it entered into an agreement with Cleanevent which removed all penalty rates for low-paid cleaners without compensation, she said.

Extracted in full from 7 News.

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