Greens introduce bill to help prevent future 7-Eleven style worker exploitation

Greens industrial relations spokesperson Adam Bandt MP today introduced into Parliament a bill to help prevent franchise employees from being underpaid in the future by making head office franchisors share liability for their franchisees’ underpayments.

“Something is wrong with our system when the boss of 7-Eleven is a billionaire but its workers are getting paid under $10 an hour and threatened with deportation,” Mr Bandt said.

“By allowing workers to claim any underpayments directly from head office, this law will help bring about a culture shift.”

“Instead of leaving it to vulnerable workers to uphold the law through expensive legal action, head offices would take more responsibility for what goes on in the stores that carry their name.”

“The head office could still pursue the franchisee for the amount of any underpayment, but they'd have an extra incentive for ensuring the underpayment didn't happen in the first place.”

“It’s a bill that will also help make contracts fairer for small business franchisees, many of whom say that turning a profit and paying the legal minimum wage are often incompatible under the terms and conditions of their franchise arrangements.”

“When it comes to stopping underpayments, prevention is better than cure.”
“Journalists and whistle-blowers exposed the 7-Eleven scam and are now exposing many more, but the reality is that government should have picked it up earlier.”

“As politicians, we must now ask how this kind of widespread flouting of labour laws could happen. It's time to treat labour laws as seriously as tax laws and beef up our enforcement agencies so everyone in Australia gets paid a legal wage.”

“This is a bill to ensure that people in Australia get paid properly, whether they’re citizens or visitors.”

“I call on everyone in this House, and the government and the Opposition, to get behind the bill and help stamp out worker exploitation and exploitation of small business right across this country.

The full title of the Private Member’s Bill is The Fair Work Amendment (Recovery of Unpaid Amounts for Franchisee Employees) Bill 2015.

Watch Mr Bandt’s full speech introducing the bill here, or view it on YouTube here.

Media contact: Adam Pulford, 0429 109 054

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