Labor wants a parliamentary inquiry into wage theft in Tasmania but business doubts it would achieve much.
Deputy Labor leader Michelle O'Byrne said wage threat was becoming a significant problem and should be treated as a crime.
The call for an inquiry into wage theft and insecure work in 2020 follows the Fair Work Ombudsman securing $104,000 in penalties against the operators of a Crust Gourmet Pizza franchise outlet in Hobart after they discriminated against four migrant workers by paying them much less than Australian employees.
"The workers were paid a flat hourly rate of $12 for all hours worked, plus $1 per pizza delivery, resulting in significant underpayment of the ordinary hourly rates, casual and evening loadings and penalty rates for weekend and public holiday work they were entitled to under the Fast Food Industry Award," Fair Work said.
Ms O'Byrne said Fair Work's only two cases involving racial discrimination had been in Tasmania.
"Wage theft is significant and it affects vulnerable workers including migrants, young people, people who are poorly educated and women," she said.
"An inquiry in Queensland found one in five or 437,000 workers were underpaid more than $1 billion.
"It's farcical that Woolworths can put hundreds of thousands of products on its shelves and keep track of that but can't pay it's workers. Why do we never here about any overpayments?"
Treasurer Peter Gutwein said wages were a matter for Fair Work.
"I think it's unfortunate that some employers don't meet their obligations to employees, but in this case Fair Work processes worked," Mr Gutwein said.
Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Michael Bailey said Fair Work was an independent body with a "huge amount of power to come down hard on employers".
"The TCCI condemns this type of behaviour, it is a terrible thing to do to workers," Mr Bailey said.
"Underpayment is usually a clerical issue and not a plot by management."
He said the TCCI would take part in an inquiry but it would be better to give workers, especially migrants, a brochure or details about their rights.
"We'd take part but it would be another talk-fest and not achieve much. It would be better to make workers aware of their rights and save a lot of expense from an inquiry with not a lot of outcome."
Multicultural Council of Tasmania chair Waqas Durrani says any parliamentary inquiry into the payment of wages below award rates should examine "why culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) workers are disproportionately affected".
"Any new parliamentary inquiry into the payment of wages below award rates needs to examine the disproportionate impact on CALD workers, and to gather evidence directly from these workers," Mr Durrani said.
"Some CALD workers may share their views on difficulties in discovering their workplace rights and the details of relevant awards. Others may share their views on the importance of retaining even low-paid employment to satisfy visa, financial and other requirements."
Mr Durrani said the council stood ready to contribute to an inquiry.
Migrant Resource Centre Northern Tasmania chief executive Ella Dixon said it was important migrant workers knew their employment rights.
"It's about education," Ms Dixon said. "Sometimes they don't know it's a problem because some cultures and nationalities convert $12 an hour to their local pay and think 'this is pretty good'.
"It (wage theft) comes up from time to time but usually is an honest mistake by employers."
Unions Tasmania secretary Jessica Munday said addressing wage theft was a top priority and the Crust case was "wage theft grounded in racism" and demonstrated the need for an inquiry to determine how widespread wage theft was in Tasmania.
"An inquiry offers an opportunity to highlight the real experiences of exploited Tasmanian workers," Ms Munday said.
"The business lobby continue to deny the reality of business models built on wage theft and try to pass off the multitude of cases that become public as the result of one or two bad apples. They are wrong."
Ms Munday argued for better rights for unions to investigate wage theft, a fast and effective way for workers to recover their stolen wages, and "greater penalties for employers who steal from their workforce".
Ms O'Byrne said there was a need for new wage theft laws "to combat systematic, widespread or blatant under and non-payment of wages and other employment benefits".