Wage rorting of employees by 7-Eleven franchisees was not widespread among the network of convenience stores, the company’s Australian chairman insists.
7-Eleven has appointed an independent panel to assess claims lodged by underpaid workers after a Four Corners and Fairfax Media investigation uncovered extensive evidence of what was described as “systemic wage rorting”.
That investigation revealed more than two thirds of 7-Eleven’s 225 Australian stores had payroll compliance issues, with claims many franchisees would face financial ruin if staff were paid correct wages.
The company’s Australian chairman Russ Withers said he accepted ultimate responsibility and promised to pay both current and former employees what they were owed.
But he insisted the wage fraud issue was not as widespread among franchisees as had been portrayed.
“I really believe this is relatively few franchise owners who are doing this,” he told 720 ABC Perth.
“We do not believe it is widespread but the investigation and the independent panel will turn that up.
“I could tell you that payroll responsibilities are the franchisees’, they are the employers of the staff, but at the end of the day this happened on our watch and we are taking responsibility for it.”
Meanwhile Federal Labor said any foreign 7-Eleven workers who breached visa rules while working for one of the company’s franchise stores should be given an amnesty.
Labor Senator Deborah O’Neill said it was clear some employees had been caught up in a wage fraud scam.
“Every Australian who has ever bought anything at 7-Eleven feels perversely negatively affected by the fact that we’ve been shopping at a place where people who have been working have been treated essentially as second-class citizens and have been wage slaves to people who’ve exploited them,” Ms O’Neill said.
Labor called on 7-Eleven executives to front a Senate inquiry into visa fraud.
Mr Withers denied 7-Eleven head office knew significant wage fraud was occurring.
“If the franchisee has made a side agreement with an individual, if we don’t hear about that all the records look correct,” he said.
“If the time sheets marry up and the rosters are posted it looks as though to us that things are being handled in a correct manner.”