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Many Domino’s pizza franchisees have been allegedly found to be part of a visa sponsorship scam, charging up to $150,000, a Fairfax Media claims to have revealed.
In a recorded phone call with a purported undercover Chinese student acting for Fairfax Media, a Mandarin-speaking franchisee reportedly demanded $100,000- $150,000 for the sponsorship he wanted to “sell”.
In what has been termed an “alarming” extent of abuse, the investigation claims many franchisees have adopted the business model that’s proving lucrative in which otherwise they would struggle to sustain.
A former Indian worker wrote to the company’s chief executive Don Meij in 2015 that he was forced to accept wages of other student employees and later return to them in cash so they didn’t violate the immigration rules. He also complained of his own exploitation at the company’s Darlinghurst store.
"I have on a regular basis if not every single day have been asked to work for at least 1 - 2 hours without pay...I have not been paid my double pay as per union agreements and legislations. Also, sometimes my clock-in hours have changed without my knowledge.
The employee who has now returned to India said the situation had taken a toll on his mental health.
“I have been very depressed and for the last 2 months and have been admitted to St Vincent Hospital," the employee wrote.
Fairfax Media reports the employee also claimed that he was forced to deliver pizzas even after he had finished his shift.
Domino’s told Fairfax Media that the employee’s underpayments were rectified.
Another former employee at a Domino’s store who now faces imminent deportation because his sponsorship deal fell apart, said he was mistreated.
"I tried so hard. I ... was treated badwith other workers calling me Indian swear words and talking in fake Indian accents.
"I kept working there but it made me depressed but I had no choice because I needed the sponsorship."
He also said he was underpaid.
Domino’s told Fairfax a disciplinary action was taken against the responsible staff member.
The company also said in a statement that it has a zero tolerance for deliberate exploitation of employees.
“There is no reason, no excuse, and no tolerance for any Domino’s franchise that chooses not to pay its employees correctly or fails to meet expectations around ethics and governance,” it said in a statement.
The company said as soon as an underpayment of wages of an employee is noticed, it places priority on correcting the payment.
The company denied that the business profitability for stores and instances of breaches of employment obligations were linked.