STILL WAITING: AFTER having his pay cut by 40 per cent per year, in 2017, at the job he worked without supervision for 11 years, Rockhampton Drakes trolley boy Nathan Watego is still waiting for fair.
STILL WAITING: AFTER having his pay cut by 40 per cent per year, in 2017, at the job he worked without supervision for 11 years, Rockhampton Drakes trolley boy Nathan Watego is still waiting for fair.

Pay still withheld from Rocky trolley boy with disability

AFTER having his pay cut by 40 per cent per year, in 2017, at the job he worked without supervision for 11 years, Rockhampton Drakes trolley boy Nathan Watego is still waiting for a fair go.

Nathan has an intellectual disability and was put on the Supported Wage System without consultation, which legally allows employers to pay based on productivity rate instead of the minimum wage.

Nathan’s advocate Rod Gardiner has been fighting for equality on his behalf for almost a year and while Nathan’s wage has been increased by 15 per cent, the battle is far from over.

“It’s not fair,” Mr Gardiner said.

“The Supported Wage legislation was not designed to further disadvantage the disadvantaged such as Nathan who are doing their utmost to gain a degree of independence and do their bit for the community.”

At his annual SWS reassessment in June, an independent assessor deemed Nathan worked at a 77.08 per cent but his wage was rounded down to 70 per cent.

The matter was referred to the Fair Work Commission and a conciliation conference was held for both parties to argue their points on December 9.

Drakes Glenmore representatives spoke to Nathan’s advocates Mr Gardiner and his dad Sydney Watego as part of negotiations and Drakes has until January 10 to respond.

While Nathan waits for his advocates to attend their next conciliation date, he continues to work for Drakes at 75 per cent of the wage he was previously paid for doing the same job for 11 years.

Laws prevent The Morning Bulletin from revealing what is discussed as part of negotiations.

Nathan’s advocates took the matter to Capricornia MP Michelle Landry and she’s made a representation on behalf of the family but Mr Gardiner said she could do more.

“It’s all very well for Michelle to do that,” Mr Gardiner said.

“We’ve asked her a lot of questions and we asked for her assistance.

“She has flicked our communications on to ministers but she hasn’t questioned why this can be happening.

“Michelle Landry should either say she agrees with the Supported Wage System legislation as it stands or, if she doesn’t, why the hell doesn’t she do something about it?”

Ms Landry said the case was out of her hands.

“Nathan’s case is currently before the Fair Work Commission and it is the independent body that hears claims and disputes related to the workplace,” Ms Landry said.

“Their decisions are made independent of any government interference

“I will continue to make representations on Nathan’s behalf in my capacity as Member for Capricornia to all relevant ministers and government departments, just as I always have done.”

Drakes Glenmore was contacted but declined to comment.

After Nathan’s story went to print in early November,, Queensland Minister for Education and Industrial Relations Grace Grace contacted Mr Watego. She said while the Supported Wage System was a Federal Government issue, she was concerned if all Queenslanders were being treated fairly.

Ms Grace instructed her staffer to write to Federal Government Attorney-General Christian Porter “raising concerns regarding the operation of the award and its negative impact on long-term employees”.

Mr Gardiner is writing a submission to the Royal Commission into Violence, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability.