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Union Steps In For Indian Temple Masons in Australia

on 2001/2/28 8:47:02 ( 1413 reads )


SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA, February 27, 2001: Further information is published in this article about the temple masons, or silpis, working at the Sri Venkateswara Temple in Helensburgh, south of Sydney. According to the men, they have been paid $45 a month in cash for a seven-day week. Another $100 a week is sent home to their families. The men have been living on the temple site in extremely cramped and rudimentary conditions, with five beds in one shed and three in another, some for three years. Their plight came to public attention yesterday when the state leader of the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union, Mr Andrew Ferguson, visited the Helensburgh temple site to speak to the workers. Mr Ferguson said he told the workers they were being underpaid and should strike until further notice. He then persuaded them to leave with him to travel to Wollongong for lunch, which is understood to have caused some commotion at the temple among priests. The men were later returned to the temple in the afternoon but left again with Mr Ferguson after overnight accommodation was arranged for them at the Novotel Hotel in Wollongong. Wollongong City Council yesterday ruled that the workers' accommodation should be moved because of "unhealthy conditions." Mr Ferguson said the workers' pay amounted to 15 per cent of their entitlements under the stonemasons' award and he would seek guarantees on back pay and that the workers would be paid legal rates in future.

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