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Canberra restaurant owner accused of abducting recalcitrant staff

By johnboy 16 March 2006 12

The treatment of Filipino workers in Canberra restaurants has taken a dramatic turn with the ABC reporting on allegations of abduction.

allegations a Filipino chef employed by a Canberra restaurant was abducted by his boss and driven to Sydney airport to be sent back to the Philippines.

Gary Sorrosa says he was kidnapped because he complained to the Department of Immigration about working conditions.

The ACTU has put out a media release but haven’t managed to get it on their website yet.

UPDATED: The Canberra Times has finally got the story online and it sounds like a bad business indeed.

He lodged a formal complaint with immigration officials in October last year and three days later five men arrived at his house in Narrabundah.

Mr Sorrosa alleged the men told him he was leaving the country and to hand over his passport, gave him 15 minutes to back his bags, pressed him to sign termination papers and forced him into the car.

“I didn’t sign [but] I was afraid they’d hurt me or my girlfriend,” he said.

His distraught girlfriend Ann Cabisidan called the Philippines embassy after the men had left with her boyfriend.

The men were reportedly taking him to Sydney International Airport when police stopped the car near Mittagong because the driver was speeding. Mr Sorrosa told the police he had been abducted and one of the officer’s reportedly drew his gun before handcuffing one of the men.

[On another note I bet Mr. Sorrosa is glad NSW hasn’t gone to “speed camera only” enforcement]

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12 Responses to
Canberra restaurant owner accused of abducting recalcitrant staff
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simto 9:04 am 30 May 06

…there’s an oven baked pizza?

Pandy 8:10 am 30 May 06

So after all these investigations, the Federal Dept is going to take Zefferellis to court.

Where there is smoke…………

alans 5:49 am 30 May 06

I sincerly doubt the matter would now be before court over a $4.50 a week technical infraction.

cerruti 8:26 pm 04 Apr 06

Ok. Let me just start off by saying that i started working at Zeffirelli 8 years ago and I have always been treated very well and with respect just as if i was part of the family that owns it. You can go past either the Dickson or Belconnen store tonight, ask any of the staff there how they are treated and whether or not they are being paid properly and i can guarantee you that not one of them will have a complaint. Now as for the Filipino workers, I was working on the day these guys arrived in Canberra, they were all at the restaurant sitting at a table with the boss and his wife. They were all fed steaks, wine, desserts all free of charge, the boss even cracked open champagne to welcome them to Australia. They started work the next day. I would personally pick them up from home and take them to work While they were working they would eat and drink anything they wanted free of charge. All the staff at both restaurants were well aware that these people had travelled a long way into a foreign country and we all welcomed them and treated them well. These guys were provided by the boss with accomodation, beds, furniture, a fridge a washing machine toiletries plates cutlery , basically everything they needed to get started he even gave them each $100 cash for anything else they might need.
Now these guys were all hired under the impression that they were all qualified chefs. Let me tell you that 4 of the 6 that came were very good at what they did. 2 of them however had difficulty even peeling a potato. These guys had absolutely no idea how to cook and used us to get into Australia. From what i understand the boss had every right to send them home and was just about to. They found out they they were gonna get sent packing and decided that they would prefer to stay in Australia rather than be sent back to the conditions that they were living in back in the Phillipines. So they went to the union. Now the unions were in a position that they were just about to be rendered obsolete by these new IR laws so they decided to take the bull by the horns and turn Zeffirelli and all the other restaurants into scapegoats. THEY contacted (the otherwise unknown) Sen Kate Lundy so she could put her 5 cents in and finally make a name for herself. THEY contacted win news and made allegations of racial villification and harassment which is all a load of crap! (half the people that work there both in the kitchen and on the floor are of different ethnic backgrounds)and that one of the filipino’s was refused medical treatment after suffering a burn (When i personally put ice and cream and bandages on the wound and offered to take her to hospital myself!!).
As for being underpaid, the Chamber of commerce conducted an audit and found that 2 of the six filipino workers were in fact underpaid the amount of $4.50 per week due to a technical oversight in the office.
As for you dragcity_cowgirl I think you’ve been watching too much sopranos. I have personally paid over $2500 in parking fines just in Dickson alone and the boss’s sons have had many more parking fines there than i have.
Anyway I hope this opens a few peoples eyes and they realise that not everything portrayed in the news is accurate and that there is always two sides to every story.

ORL 10:34 am 21 Mar 06

The head chef was a blad, big bloke. I can’t remember his name. He used to throws pots and pans at the workers and sexually harrass the waitresses. He was really nice!

Thumper 3:48 pm 17 Mar 06

I’ll be in Kingston this arvo, I’ll see what I can see…

dragcity_cowgirl 3:20 pm 17 Mar 06

OK I’ve been very good for a while about some of the shit that goes on but here goes a bit of Lashon Hara [evil tongue]

Hearsay for a couple of years is aforementioned vendors of pizza in Dicko and Belco are connected with some “organisations” of certain repute. This would give them the wherewithal to “deal with” the “uncooperative” Filipino employee and help him find his way home. I’ve heard from a former employee of Unions ACT that after an exchange of words with a parking inspector in Dickson that a number of vehicles associated with this eatery are exempt from attracting parking tickets.

BTW what happened to the Kingo venture…the sign is there…which begs the question what is the legality of those pseudo street signs

Les Whinin 12:26 pm 17 Mar 06

Hey ORL, you wouldn’t happen to be talking about the head chef at Belco a few years ago by any chance? He was a very sleazy, shady character that I had the misfortune of crossing paths with once.

Back on topic, I’d believe this story is true though. Zefirelli could just be the new Canberra Mafia!

Thumper 10:29 pm 16 Mar 06

Anyway, South Africa are getting caned in the cricket!!!!!

Go boys….

Thumper 10:28 pm 16 Mar 06

First it as under pay and bad conditions, now it’s abduction?

The truth my friends, appears to be being seriously distorted.

This is not to say that I believe or disbelieve the claims but I would have to say that they really do appear to becoming quite sensational. (anyone want to call Ray Martin?)

I wait to hear what the final outcome is.

Royal commission anyone?

bonfire 5:26 pm 16 Mar 06

i must admit i was quite the zefirellis diner – quick cheap reliable. one of the few places that did calzone.

i was prepared to cut them slack when the allegations were aired, but since the adverse finding i doubt i will go back again.

of course zeffs may NOT be the restaraunt referred to in the kidnapping incident.

ORL 3:26 pm 16 Mar 06

It wouldn’t surprise me.
I used to work for Zeferrelli’s (one of the Canberra restuarants in question) when I was 17 and they were complete psychotic jerks!
The Head Chef was even worse!

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