Wage abuse claims spread

The convenience industry was rocked this week by claims of a ‘half-pay scam’ at many 7-Eleven stores and allegations that 7-Eleven’s head office has turned a blind eye to such conduct. The company reacted quickly by proposing and independent inquiry, offering to buy out disgruntled franchisees and vowing that law breaking franchisees would be weeded out.

Allegations against 7-Eleven are not isolated, with the ABC today alleging underpayment of workers at petroleum retailer, United Petroleum.

Despite United Petroleum’s chief operating officer (COO) David Szymczak telling  the ABC that, “United Petroleum was shocked by 7-Eleven’s conduct, and certainly do not operate in that way,” the ABC has today reported at least one instance of similar conduct at United Petroleum.

When contacted by C&I WEEK, Mr Szymczak declined to comment.

A United spokesman earlier told the ABC that it “would never be involved in a business ripping off workers.

The ABC however claims to have obtained an email sent from one franchisee to two senior United Petroleum managers in 2013. The email says, “I really want to be able to afford & start paying award rates but the financial compulsions are something I do not have control over. I believe everyone else in the network must be in same position.” The franchisee, who has not been identified, told the ABC that the company repeatedly ignored his pleas to discuss the issue.

These allegations come at a time when retail fuel margins in Australia are at record highs.

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