Bottoms English Lawyers class action administrator Jonathon Kawa and solicitor Praneel Bhela met with members of the stolen wages class action in Gladstone.
Bottoms English Lawyers class action administrator Jonathon Kawa and solicitor Praneel Bhela met with members of the stolen wages class action in Gladstone. Tegan Annett

Gladstone backs stolen wages class action campaign

GLADSTONE people have backed a social justice campaign demanding the Queensland Government repay thousands of people their "stolen wages".

Leading the stolen wages class action, Bottom English Lawyers (Be Law) visited Gladstone yesterday to meet with people effected, which include Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people who had a paid job between 1939 and 1972, when pay was controlled by the Queensland Government.

They met seven people at the Gladstone City Library who are registered in the open class action.

They claim when the Queensland Government ended its control of wages for Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders, they did not pay repay all of the the wages owed.

The case was brought in to the Federal Court by Hans Pearson in 2016 on behalf of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders who weren't paid their wages in full during the 33 years.

Administrator of the class action Jonathon Kawa said the money withheld damaged people's opportunity to financially support their family, driving some to poverty.

Mr Kawa said hearing "the same stories" at every region they visited took an emotional toll.

Solicitor Praneel Bhela said Be Law and Mr Hans were not seeking compensation. They are requesting to have the wages earned repaid to the people or their families.

"This is our history," Mr Bhela said.

"This is something that happened long ago, there's no reason the current Queensland Government can't right this wrong."

Gladstone is one of 30 towns visited by Be Law in preparation for their fight for settlement.



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