Friday, 29 July 2016

Shop at Woolworths on the NSW North Coast? You need to read this

Trolley collection services procurement by Woolworths Limited,  media release date June 2016: 

In June 2014 we commenced an Inquiry into Woolworths’ procurement of trolley collection services.

For nearly a decade before this, we'd been investigating allegations of serious non-compliance with workplace laws involving businesses providing trolley collection services to Woolworths Limited (Woolworths).

In response to a perceived lack of improvement in compliance and disturbing allegations of violence towards workers at some Woolworths' sites, we started an Inquiry into their procurement of trolley collection services. It aimed to comprehensively identify and address the levels and drivers of non-compliance with Australian workplace laws by businesses involved in Woolworths' labour supply chains.

We examined around 130 Woolworths' supermarket sites across Australia and found indications of some form of non-compliance at 79% of them. The findings of this report indicate an entrenched culture of non-compliance in the Woolworths trolley collection supply chain.

At the time of publishing, as a result of the Inquiry, we've taken enforcement action against a number of businesses (and their Directors) involved in various Woolworths' labour supply chains, including:
commencing legal action against 2 businesses and their Directors, one of which we believe provided us with false and misleading records and the other for allegedly underpaying over $25 000 in wages
issuing 9 letters of caution for various Award contraventions, failing to adequately keep records, and misclassifying employment as an independent contracting arrangement.

We are also considering future legal proceedings against a number of other businesses providing labour to Woolworths for similar alleged contraventions.

Download the full report on our Inquiry into trolley collection services procurement by Woolworths Limited (PDF 1.1MB).


Examining 130 (or 13.5%) of Woolworths’ supermarket sites across Australia , the Inquiry found:

n more than 3 in every 4 (79%) of sites visited had indications of some form of non-compliance with workplace laws
n almost 1 in every 2 (49%) of sites visited presented serious issues, that is multiple indicators of non-compliance
n deficient governance arrangements contributing to a lack of Award knowledge and substandard record keeping
n false, inaccurate or misleading records
n failure to issue pay slips to workers
n workers being paid rates as low as $10 an hour
n cash payments which disguised the true identities of workers and actual amounts paid to workers
n manipulation of the identity card system implemented by Woolworths
n workers vulnerable to exploitation and often complicit in acts of non-compliance
n complex labour supply chains with networks of corporate structures and intermediaries to facilitate cash payments, recruitment of vulnerable workers and production of false records.

These characteristics are indicative of an entrenched culture of non-compliance in the Woolworths trolley collection supply chain......

We examined correspondence and the Trolley Collection Service Agreement from 2011 relating to 17 NSW and ACT supermarket sites. By dividing the agreed price by the weekly labour hours required to deliver the service, we found the cost per labour hour was below minimum pay rates at 15 of the 17 sites.

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