Protesters swarmed the front of Fun Tea, as the victims of the bubble tea cafe brawl broke their silence, claiming they are victims of wage theft.
Protesters swarmed the front of Fun Tea, as the victims of the bubble tea cafe brawl broke their silence, claiming they are victims of wage theft.

Protest against wage theft after bubble tea brawl

Dozens of protesters gathered out the front of the Adelaide CBD bubble tea shop, where a brawl broke out last week, calling for end to all wage exploitation and theft.

The group chanted between speeches saying "Say no underpayment, say no to exploitation" with many people holding signs which read "no more wage theft", "no to violence against women" and "sick of these a****** bosses".

Aira Firdaus from the United Workers Union told of her experience with wage theft by another employer when she migrated from Malaysia about 10 years ago.

Protesters were led by Tom Gilchrist outside of Fun Tea in Gouger Street where a girl was assaulted. Picture: Dean Martin
Protesters were led by Tom Gilchrist outside of Fun Tea in Gouger Street where a girl was assaulted. Picture: Dean Martin

She said she only earned between $8-$14 an hour working in hospitality.

"At the time I did not know my rights as a worker," Miss Firdaus said.

"My boss at the time threatened me if I didn't want to clean the bathrooms (with) in 10 minutes … I felt very scared and this happened to a lot of other hospitality workers as well.

"(The footage of the brawl is) appalling and it's sad to say that it's actually very common and I wasn't surprised."

Jackie Chen from the SA Labour Info Hub said he knew of at least 121 other businesses in Chinatown that paid their workers less than $15 an hour.

He said about 90 per cent of international workers were fearful to speak out against their employers.

"This is 100 per cent unacceptable, especially when international students are not fluent in English and they don't know how to find support because they're not familiar with the Australian system," Mr Chen said.

"We urge the Australian government to look into these issues and to sort this out. It's a disaster that's been going on for decades. Besides, they're eroding the Australian tax system."

Dozens of people attended the protest. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Kelly Barnes
Dozens of people attended the protest. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Kelly Barnes

Edward Satchell from the SDA Union said underpayment existed everywhere and many employers tried to get out of paying the correct wages.

"We're working with a range of organisations to investigate what happened and we'll be looking to pursue to make sure justice is served in this case and broadly."

Another rally has been organised for Saturday.

The two women who were slapped during the brawl said they are also victims of wage theft and are considering legal action.

Footage emerged earlier this week showing a 20-year-old woman being hit across the face then later kicked in the stomach after an argument broke out in the Fun Tea store in Adelaide's Chinatown.

 

The shocking video emerged of the assault in a Gouger St bubble tea shop earlier this week. Picture: Reddit
The shocking video emerged of the assault in a Gouger St bubble tea shop earlier this week. Picture: Reddit

 

In a notice propped in the window of the Gouger St store, which has been closed since Friday, it claimed the assailant had no affiliation with the business.

"The incident arose following a previous verbal argument which the female employee had with the customer," it read.

"The alleged assault was not connected to a complaint about the employee's pay or rates of pay."

A Glen Osmond man, 31, was arrested and charged with assault over the incident. He will appear in Adelaide Magistrates Court in May.

Fun Tea propped up a notice in their shop window on Wednesday. Picture: Patrick James
Fun Tea propped up a notice in their shop window on Wednesday. Picture: Patrick James

The victim and a co-worker responded via employee and industrial rights advocacy group Working Women's Centre SA, who they engaged on Wednesday afternoon to act on their behalf.

In a statement WWC SA director Abbey Kendall said one client "entirely rejects" Fun Tea's claim the assault was not related to a wage complaint.

"Our client was asking to be paid her wages for that night and the two weeks prior," she said. "This is clear from the video."

 

CCTV footage of FunTea fight: CCTV footage of an assault at bubble tea shop FunTea on Gouger St, Adelaide.

 

The Working Women's Centre SA Inc is representing the women, aged 20 and 22, who were both Fun Tea employees for almost six months.

The social services organisation claims the women earned between $10 and $12 an hour as casual employees when the legal minimum rate in a restaurant is $25.51.

"International Students are often the victims of wage theft in the workplace."

The two women who were hit during the brawl claim they were also victims of wage theft, only being paid up to $12 an hour. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Kelly Barnes
The two women who were hit during the brawl claim they were also victims of wage theft, only being paid up to $12 an hour. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Kelly Barnes

According to The Working Women's Centre SA Inc, one of the women was told by management at Fun Tea that the arrested man would attend the store on January 29 and that the staff should provide free drinks and desserts to him and his family.

While police continue to investigate the circumstances of the alleged assault, WWCSA have rejected claims by the store that the confrontation was unrelated to their wage dispute.

The two women claim Fun tea "failed to provide a safe workplace" and store management "did not immediately check on their welfare".

Originally published as Protest against wage theft after bubble tea brawl

During the tussle, both women were slapped and one of them was kicked in the stomach. Picture: Reddit
During the tussle, both women were slapped and one of them was kicked in the stomach. Picture: Reddit