Despite the widespread media coverage of the 7-Eleven half-pay scam, an ongoing Senate inquiry, and an investigation by the Fair Work Ombudsman, many 7-Eleven workers are still being underpaid.
The systematic underpayment of 7-Eleven workers was first exposed in 2008 by UNITE, the union for fast food and retail workers in Victoria. The matter was then thrust into the mainstream by a Four Corners investigation last year.
The exposé forced the company to set up a wage review panel and subsequently more than $2 million in lost wages have been paid. The final back pay bill could exceed $30 million. Workers however have reported that franchise owners were intimidating them and urging them not to approach the panel. Others have reported being asked to hand wages back in cash.
While there is an immediate need to follow up all the back pay issues and keep pressure on the company to pay everything owed, the only way to deal with these types of issues in the long term is to build a fighting union in all 7-Eleven stores.
By Jeremy Trott