7-Eleven under fire over claims of worker exploitation

7/11 (Seven Eleven) convenient store in Sydney (AAP) Source: AAP

Alleged exploitation of 7-Eleven workers on half-wages should be investigated in a special Senate inquiry hearing, the Greens says.

Convenience store chain 7-Eleven is under fire over allegations that some of its stores are paying its workers as little as $10 an hour. 

A joint Fairfax-Four Corners investigation found up to two-thirds of the company's stores could be ripping off workers, mainly foreigners on student visas.

Some franchisees have been accused of creating fake pay sheets so workers are paid for half the hours they work.

One 7-Eleven source said the attempts to cover up wage fraud over a period of years was akin to allowing slavery to flourish.

"They can't run 7-Eleven as profitably and successfully as they have without letting this happen. The reality is it's built on something not much different from slavery," the insider told Fairfax Media.

The Australian Greens Party said it will instigate a special hearing of the Senate inquiry to examine the working visa program. 

"I will refer these shocking claims to the current Senate inquiry into Australia's working visa program and request they hold a special hearing into these reports," Greens MP Adam Bandt said on Saturday.

Consumer advocate Michael Fraser said he has met with 100 store employees who have been underpaid.

He said there needs to be greater accountability.

"I think head office should be accountable and I think the government needs to take a stronger stance on addressing these issues and having a look at the legislation around these matters," he told the Macquarie Radio Network.

Fair Work has been investigating the allegations of the underpaying of staff. Early findings have resulted in an enforceable undertaking involving a Melbourne CBD franchisee and separate legal action in Sydney's western suburb of Blacktown.

The Blacktown franchisee, Harmandeep Singh Sarkaria, told Fairfax Media he was disappointed that Fair Work had launched legal action against him because he felt he had been co-operating with the ombudsman.

- with AAP

Source SBS

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