Pizza maker accused of $1M wage theft

Kaitlyn Offer

Melbourne pizza workers say they were underpaid a collective $1 million and subjected to racial abuse from managers.

A group of 21 former employees of Della Rosa, one of Australia's largest supermarket pizza manufacturers, have launched legal action in the Federal Court through the United Workers Union over years of alleged mistreatment.

Vikram Singh worked at Della Rosa for three years and believes he is owed tens of thousands of dollars.

"I was exploited by Della Rosa and threatened with losing my job when I tried to speak out," he said in a statement on Wednesday.

"I won't be silent any longer and I am proud to see my case in the Federal Court today and to be seeking justice alongside my workmates."

Fellow former Della Rosa worker Sunil Kumar said he was bullied out of the company for joining the union and when he left in 2017, he was not paid out any of his entitlements because the company said it had lost his records.

The United Workers Union alleges workers were paid a flat rate and were denied overtime payments, shift loading, and public holiday rates.

"Exploitation of migrant workers and wage theft was part of the day-to-day business," the union's Susie Allison told reporters at the Federal Court on Wednesday.

"They've been called animals and (subjected to) blatant statements like 'we don't like Indians here'."

The claim dates back to 2013 and it's believed some workers are owed about $60,000.

Della Rosa has been contacted for comment.