The Retail and Fast Food Workers Union has accused Hungry Jack’s of seeking interns to fill its summer workforce, relying on a taxpayer-funded payments to cover a busy time of the year.
The union shared an image of a job advertisement on Facebook, which says it is “looking to help out young people with their first job” and would offer interns 15 hours per week in stores in Sydney.
The union said the advertisement was no longer current and was placed on a job search website accessible only to people receiving Centrelink payments several weeks ago.
The internships are part of a Federal Government program that aims to get jobseekers under the age of 25 into employment.
The program sees interns work between 15 and 25 hours per week over four to 12 weeks, with the workers receiving a $200 payment per fortnight from the Government on top of their regular unemployment benefits.
That would equate to $4 per hour on top of their benefit payment if the intern was working the maximum 50 hours per fortnight.
Businesses that bring on interns receive a $1,000 payment, with a further payment of up to $10,000 if the intern is given a job.
The program has struggled to attract participants, with 4,785 internships completed in the first 18 months — well short of the target of 30,000 internship per year.
The vast majority of the interns were employed as cafe workers or sales assistants, according to Department of Jobs and Small Business documents supplied to a Senate estimates hearing in December.
The Government has defended the program, with Jobs Minister Kelly O’Dwyer saying earlier in December it had been successful in getting young people into work.
Josh Cullinan, secretary of the fast food workers union, said it was “outraged” that government resources were funding the internships, which denied other job seekers hours over the busy Christmas period.
“These Christmas casual jobs in past years were a simple way for current workers and school leavers to get work over the summer period,” he said.
“These were real jobs that were paid for by Hungry Jack’s.
“Hungry Jack’s already had pitifully low wages – having abolished penalty rates and other conditions under their old zombie enterprise agreements.
“This shows that they will ruthlessly find any means possible to pay our members even less. It must stop.”
Sally McManus, secretary of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, called Hungry Jack’s advertisement a “whopper rip-off”.
“They are tax funded so cost this multinational nothing,” she wrote on Twitter.
Senator for Western Australia Sue Lines said it was “unacceptable” as “junior rates already give [Hungry Jack’s] an advantage”.
In a statement on Twitter, Hungry Jack’s said it is not “currently” advertising for interns and “employs no interns in its restaurants”.
“From time to time, internships are offered to the long-term unemployed. These internships, part of the Federal Government’s Youth Job Path Program, last from 4 to 12 weeks and aim to assist people in gaining employment,” the company said in a statement.
“Hungry Jack’s franchisees also participate in similar socially responsible programs to assist the long-term unemployed and it is the obligation of each individual franchisee to ensure employees are paid under the relevant and current awards.
“Hungry Jack’s places the utmost importance on the fair treatment of all stakeholders connected to the company.”
Employment agency Max Solutions has been contacted for comment.