Magazine of Socialist Action in Australia

UNITE wins back pay for 7-Eleven workers

Reading Time: 3 minutes

UNITE’s year long campaign against convenience store giant 7-Eleven is literally starting to pay off! $112,000 in unpaid wages has been recovered for 7-Eleven workers in Melbourne and a further $55,000 has been recovered in Sydney.

For years 7-Eleven has been involved in the widespread underpayment of wages. Most 7-Eleven workers are international students and some have reported being paid as little as $5 an hour! In some cases workers have been forced to work for weeks with no pay at all while others have had to act as store security with no training.

Part of UNITE’s campaign has been to pressure the Fair Work Ombudsman to force 7-Eleven to comply with the law. In July the Ombudsman announced that they were forcing five 7-Eleven stores in the Melbourne CBD to back pay 88 workers and a sixth store was made to credit 12 workers with 1000 hours of lost annual leave.

The underpayments found at the Melbourne stores were $32,134 for 18 workers, $27,053 for 25 workers, $24,987 for 25 workers, $23,671 for 16 workers and $3,615 for four workers. Fifteen stores in Sydney have also had to reimburse 80 workers thanks to UNITE’s campaign.

Currently UNITE is pursuing more back pay for a group of 7-Eleven workers in Geelong. 7-Eleven franchisee Eddie Chan was ordered by the Fair Work Ombudsman to back pay the workers in early August. He failed to meet this deadline and the Ombudsman is now taking the matter to court. UNITE is calling for Chan to be prosecuted. (see more below)

A key underlying theme in these disputes is the fact that all of the workers are international students. Young people are being exploited at work everyday but international students face further difficulties. International students do not have full work rights and are only allowed to work 20 hours a week. Often they are forced to work more than 20 hours in order to make ends meet. This allows bosses to threaten them with deportation unless they agree to work long shifts without breaks for very low wages.

UNITE has warned that this is not the end of the campaign. Thousands more 7-Eleven workers are still being ripped off and are subject to terrible conditions. The hope is that this initial victory will encourage more workers to speak up. Much more could be won if 7-Eleven workers were better organised.

If you work in fast food or retail in Victoria you should join UNITE. They are the only union fighting for the rights of young people and international students at work. If workers stand together against low pay, long hours and exploitation victories can be won.

Protest against 7-Eleven this Friday in South Yarra

On Friday September 18 between 5-6pm UNITE will stage an action outside the 7-Eleven store at 187 Domain Rd, South Yarra. The store is located on the corner of Park St, opposite the Botanical Gardens.

The South Yarra store is part owned by Eddie Chan. Until recently Chan also owned the Moorabool St store in Geelong where he paid his workers only half of the wages they were owed! UNITE estimates that these Geelong workers are owed more than $100,000. Chan is refusing to pay up despite being ordered to by the Fair Work Ombudsman.

UNITE is demanding that Chan pay these workers the money that is owed to them. We are also calling upon the Fair Work Ombudsman to prosecute Chan for serious breaches of the law.

7-Eleven head office would like to wash their hands of these problems, yet continue to maintain a relationship with dodgy operators like Eddie Chan. Similar scams are happening in many other 7-Eleven stores across the country.

We call on our supporters to attend this action and say NO to the 7-Eleven rip-off!
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