Foreign workers claim they were exploited by the Mantle Group.
Foreign workers claim they were exploited by the Mantle Group.

Work visa employee felt ‘trapped and pushed to limit’

ADAM Hardwick, from the UK, joined Mantle Group in 2012 as a venue manager at the Library Café while on a working holiday visa.

He was sponsored by the company from 2013-15 on a 457 visa.

He worked as a venue manager Pig 'N' Whistle on Brunswick St, Fortitude Valley, and in an account given to The Courier-Mail he tells of being pushed to the limit as he searched for an exit strategy.

"You were so trapped that you couldn't even explore the idea of kind of moving companies and they push you to your limits because of that. (Mantle Group) knew if they got you on a 457 they had you for three years.

Adam Hardwick worked as a venue manager while on a 457 visa at Mantle Group.
Adam Hardwick worked as a venue manager while on a 457 visa at Mantle Group.

"They know they have you for that long because if you leave you haven't any other options.

"You would have to find someone else to pick up your sponsorship.

"Then on the back of that they were able to squeeze you into working all these hours and not pay you any bonus, any extra time, nothing. Everyone hated it. But it was the best deal you could find.

"You only get 90 days (to find a new sponsor). There are only so many companies in that industry that are big enough to do it. I used to try and find the companies.

"No-one really dangles their name out there that they do it - unless you know someone sponsored.

"It is very difficult in 90 days to get them to sponsor you because they kind of have to be convinced by your ability.

"... they were getting work out of you that you would expect to get from people in the $60-70,000 (bracket) or in some cases ($80,000).

"All the venues I've had I had sponsored chefs and sponsored managers.

"The way Mantle Group did it is they say we'll give you a sponsorship but we want 50 hours otherwise we are not sponsoring you.

"During the time until I left the company, I was periodically sent batches of timesheets, usually in blocks of six months at a time.

Adam Hardwick worked at the Pig 'N' Whistle at Brunswick St in Fortitude Valley.
Adam Hardwick worked at the Pig 'N' Whistle at Brunswick St in Fortitude Valley.

"I was instructed to fill these out with false hours totalling 38 hours. All these hours were a total fabrication and were filled out months in advance to any shifts actually worked.

"It would take you hours. You'd sit down with your pen and you'll make up 38 hour bullshit, five days a week which total 38 hours.

"You send them all back in. And they are nonsense. There are so many of those days where I would have been on holiday. Not even been there. But I have my name and signature on them.

"During this time on a weekly basis I would also have to fill out my actual time sheet which documented the minimum 55 hours the company required me to work.

"As a venue manager I was also responsible for processing the time sheets of other members of staff who were in similar positions.

"I had two deputy managers who were both sponsored and again had to fill out false time sheets documenting 38 hours per week, in addition to their genuine time sheets with 50+ hours.

"On several occasions I would work in excess of 70-80 hours and on one occasion, during the opening of a new venue, in excess of 100 hours.

"I took a terrible risk when I left. I just couldn't work there anymore. I really should have stayed, been more patient and been able to get my (permanent residency) and then getting the freedom to leave. I chose to leave for moral reasons."



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