Leading law firm Maurice Blackburn Lawyers and the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association (SDA) today welcomed news that 7-ELEVEN paid back more than $173 million in stolen wages but warned underpayment remained rife in industries that employed large migrant workforces.
SDA National Secretary Gerard O’Dwyer said the union was very pleased more than 4000 workers had been repaid after a long union-led campaign to recover their stolen wages.
“The SDA is pleased that its efforts have finally retrieved large amounts of their wages that should never have been stolen from them in the first place.
“Let this be a warning to those sectors with large numbers of migrant workers that there is no hiding place.”
“The SDA will remain relentless in its efforts to ensure that fast food workers are paid all they are entitled.”
Maurice Blackburn Principal Giri Sivaraman said the union and the firm worked together for more than four years to recover stolen wages, with some of the exploited workers receiving as little as $5 an hour.
“Somehow, gross underpayment of wages had been consistently occurring at franchises across the nation. There’d been widespread doctoring of payroll records, time sheets and rosters had been falsified as had store financial records,” Mr Sivaraman said.
“There was also proof of understated wage bills, store reviews and explosive documents relating to payroll compliance from the head office of the country’s biggest convenience store chain.”
“This is a great example of why unions are critical to ensuring workers aren’t ripped off by unethical employers. While it is good to hear 7-ELEVEN has improved its compliance, underpayment remains rife in the retail and hospitality industries.”