On The Run under fire over traineeship program

The traineeship program of South Australia’s privately-owned On The Run (OTR) convenience chain has come under fire from employees. Over the last decade the accredited program has trained more than 10,000 people, however, some participants have now alleged the company is using the traineeship program to lower wages.

The first allegations against the Peregrine Corporation’s On The Run convenience stores surfaced in September this year in the wake of the 7-Eleven wages scandal.

South Australian newspaper The Advertiser reported the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) was assessing “intelligence” thought to have come from a Facebook page named “Boycott On The Run”, which had more 2000 likes before it was removed.

At the time, Ombusdman director Craig Bildstien said the office was monitoring the page, which current and former employees were using to air grievances about On The Run’s traineeship program and general working conditions.

A spokesperson for the FWO has confirmed to C&I that recent intelligence provided to the office is still under assessment.

On Tuesday November 3, the ABC’s 7.30 program aired a report with allegations from two former On The Run employees, who suggested the convenience chain was using its traineeship program to avoid paying full wages.

In a statement to South Australian online publication, InDaily, Peregrine Coporation denied the allegations and rejected the ABC’s claims that On The Run was being investigated by the SA Government.

According to the Fair Work Ombudsman, traineeships are designed to allow employees to “study for a certificate qualification to work in a particular industry or occupation”. Programs should take one to two years and must be undertaken while working full-time or part-time, and receive the same entitlements as other employees, like sick leave, annual leave, public holidays and breaks.

On The Run convenience stores are currently registered on the SA Government’s Training and Skills Register, which lists employers approved under the Training and Skills Development Act 2008, to undertake training contracts with apprentices and trainees.

When contacted by C&I, a spokesperson for the FWO said the Fair Work Ombudsman is aware of ABC reports about South Australian Government investigations into On the Run but is not currently investigating the chain.

Requests by C&I for confirmation of the investigation from South Australia’s Employment, Higher Education and Skills Minister Gail Gago have not yet been returned.

Peregrine Corporation was also contacted by C&I  for comment but did not respond at the time of publication.

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