Oz firm tells workers to speak English or lose out on pay

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Sydney, Oct 31 (UNI) An Australian company has directed its multicultural workforce to speak only English or sacrifice a pay rise.

The Australian company Cochlear, famous for supplying hearing aids to the world, has threatened to deny pay rises to staff who speak foreign languages at the workplace, inspite of more than half the manufacturing workers at its Lane Cove plant hailing from non-English-speaking countries.

A worker from Cambodia, Huy Kha, alleges in his complaint to be lodged today with the NSW Anti- Discrimination Board that in June his manager ordered him to ''speak English at all times''.

''The team leader said that if we are found speaking a foreign language we will fail our assessment to get a higher classification," he wrote.

The Age quoted Cochlear's chief executive, Chris Roberts, as saying he was unaware of Mr Kha's complaint but that the company had ''a policy of mutual respect in the workplace. So if there is a bunch of people in a group, they should not speak a language that cuts others out.'' It is estimated that two-thirds of the manufacturing staff of Cochlear are from non-English-speaking backgrounds, many from China, Vietnam and Cambodia.


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