The SDA has been supporting current and former 7-Eleven employees by helping them to recover their legal entitlements, which have been subject to a systematic pattern of exploitation by many 7-Eleven franchisees.
Many members will recall the shocking working conditions in 7-Eleven stores revealed by the ABC’s Four Corners program in 2015.
The SDA and Maurice Blackburn have continued to fight for, and represent, both current and former 7-Eleven workers in reclaiming their lost wages and entitlements.
To date, 7-Eleven workers have received almost $10 million in compensation, with the SDA Victorian Branch claiming $959,445.
7-Eleven workers, most of whom are on student visas, still have industrial rights under Australian law.
Like other employees, 7-Eleven workers have rights to:
- be paid for the hours worked;
- penalty rates for late nights and weekend work;
- sick pay and annual leave (for permanent employees); and
- not have their pay docked if the till is short or if they are held up.
The workplace issues the SDA has seen include, quite often, 7-Eleven employees working double the hours that are on their payslip. Effectively, these employees are getting half the pay.
The other common approach is that employees work the right hours but, to make the franchises get wages down, employees are required to give back some of their wages as cash.
This cash is often used by the franchisee to pay other employees who do not appear anywhere on the books.
Further, the hourly rate of pay — which is a flat rate — applies for night work, weekend work and public holidays. Generally, this rate has ranged between $9 and $14 per hour!
The SDA has also come across issues around superannuation. In some circumstances, it is just not paid.
The other unfortunate and recurring themes are that 7-Eleven employees have to compensate the franchisee for losses arising from shoplifting and, if their cash register is short, there is another common pattern that they have to make up the difference in the register at the end of their shift.
The SDA believes whistleblower protections need to be extended to cover temporary visa workers. The biggest fear of workers on visas reporting any exploitation is the fear of deportation.
The SDA made a submission before the Senate Inquiry into ‘The impact of Australia’s temporary work visa programs on the Australian labour market and on the temporary work visa holders'.
As a result, the Department of Immigration wrote to Maurice Blackburn lawyers and the SDA in February this year confirming that the Federal government was prepared to provide assurances to the workers that their visas would not be cancelled if they came forward to assist in investigations of poor treatment and underpayment.
The SDA is currently supporting 7-Eleven workers in taking their claims to the Federal Circuit Court, and we will continue to advocate for improved working conditions for vulnerable workers.