The following is the unedited text of a Press Release issued by Caltex Australia on November 3, 2016 in response to media allegations:
In relation to the allegations raised in today’s media, Caltex Australia confirms that it does not tolerate any unlawful activity – including deliberate underpayment of workers – anywhere in its network.
Caltex’s 85 company-operated sites comply with all Australian laws, including those related to wages and conditions. Caltex is not aware of any allegations raised against Caltex or any of its company-operated sites.
Similarly, Caltex requires every one of its more than 300 franchisees to comply with the law. We conduct annual review and audit processes to ensure compliance with these laws and our franchise agreements. Caltex also has a sustainable franchise business model, which is very different from other franchisors. The Caltex model is structured so that there is never a need for franchisees not to meet all wage obligations.
Reports regarding another franchisor in 2015 prompted Caltex to conduct forensic independent investigations into our franchisees to determine whether any of them were breaching Australian workplace laws.
Caltex proactively contacted the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) in November 2015 regarding this investigation process and has continued to provide regular updates over the past 12 months.
Throughout this period we have also continued to communicate with franchisees to further remind them of their obligations to their employees, Caltex and the FWO.
Caltex did not “tip-off” company-operated or franchise sites. FWO advised Caltex that it would be conducting random audits across its network and requested that Caltex communicate with each site operator. Caltex wrote to its franchisees and company stores to ensure their full cooperation with the auditing process should their site be inspected.
Caltex was not provided any information about the specific sites the FWO would be auditing.
Caltex has conducted forensic investigations into 20 franchised sites (eight franchisees) and is investigating more than 40 other sites. This process will continue.
We have terminated five franchisees over the past 12 months – they represent a small fraction of our network of over 300 Caltex franchisees and unfairly damage the hard-earned reputation of the overwhelming majority who do the right thing by their employees.
Caltex has established a number of channels through which the questions and concerns of franchisee employees can be raised, including an anonymous hotline.
There is no excuse for underpaying workers – if any further cases of fraudulent or deliberate misbehaviour are identified, whether through Caltex’s independent investigation process or as a result of the FWO auditing over coming weeks, we will not hesitate to terminate our agreement with the franchisee involved.
Anyone with questions or allegations about wages and conditions across the Caltex network is urged to call our anonymous hotline on 1800 986 383.