SM Looking Forward feature City Hall Museum of Brisbane historical architecture Australia
SM Looking Forward feature City Hall Museum of Brisbane historical architecture Australia

‘They’re not a company I would work for’

A TECHNOLOGY company that settled claims of worker exploitation with three employees has been awarded another contract with Brisbane City Council. The union who negotiated the claims last year says other issues are still emerging from the firm.

Last year IT company HCL Australia settled with three workers over claims employees were being forced to log excessive hours for low pay.

In March Brisbane City Council awarded the company a $385,229 IT contract. There were no other tenders for the work.

Services Union secretary Neil Henderson said it had negotiated with HCL Australia last year on behalf of those three employees.

"There were serious issues and they were resolved directly but there are other issues which are emerging now," he said.

"They're not a company I would want to work for, I can tell you."

Mr Henderson would not detail the new issues.

Brisbane City Hall.
Brisbane City Hall.

A HCL spokesman said the company had operated in Australia for more than 20 years and was "a partner of choice for multiple customers" including the state and federal governments.

"At HCL we remain committed to a fair and transparent workplace compliant with the laws of the land," he said.

"Indeed, all our policies, programs, processes and practices are premised to facilitate an equitable and inclusive work environment."

Opposition leader Peter Cumming said HCL's track record was poor and Labor would have preferred the company was not given any more work.

"When they were originally appointed, a lot of council IT workers lost their jobs. They (HCL) undercut the cost of what council could do for the work," he said.

"But then it became clear they were expecting people to work overtime without paying them."

Labor opposition leader Peter Cumming Picture: AAP/Regi Varghese
Labor opposition leader Peter Cumming Picture: AAP/Regi Varghese

A Brisbane City Council spokeswoman said: "HCL is required under its contract with Council to meet all lawful requirements in its operations, including industrial laws, and has confirmed that all previous matters have been resolved directly with the employees involved".

Around the time of the settlement in October last year, former Lord Mayor Graham Quirk told the council meeting that HCL's overarching contract expired in 2020.

He said the council would "continue to monitor closely the actions of HCL under the contract".

"There was one very clear reason why this contract was entered into - a saving of very significant money to the ratepayers of this city," he told the chamber in 2018.



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