Are we willing to tolerate sweat shop conditions for convenience’s sake? 59

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Workers are being paid as little as $10 per hour and are working outrageously long hours so that we can have bread, milk and Mars Bars any time of day or night, according to a Four Corners investigation.

With more than 600 stores around Australia, 7-Eleven is the business built for our convenience. It is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and serves around six customers every second and generate more than $3 billion in sales.

But, as the report will explain, blackmail, wage-theft and threatening behaviour are rife in 7-Eleven stores. Journalist Adele Ferguson told ABC radio that in every store she visited, workers were being abused.

One of the most common issues was severe underpayment – the award rate for working in a convenience store is $24.50, more for night work and weekends. However, most staff were being paid just $10 or $12.

Australia is a country built on equity and a fair go but, at some point, the need for 24-hour milk overtook that and no one questioned why the same guy was in the local 7-Eleven at midday and midnight.

7-Eleven is now under investigation by the Fair Work Ombudsman, but Ms Ferguson says the practices of the chain flew under the radar for a long time.

Individual stores have been accused of ripping off individual student workers $20,000 and beyond, and falsifying their papers. Many were blackmailed, told that if they complained they would dob them in for working more hours than their visas allowed.

While 7-Eleven’s head office has denied it knew anything about the practices of its franchisees, experts say the whole business model is built on cheap labour – which is something Australia cannot offer.

An insider says, “They can’t run 7-Eleven as profitably and successfully as they have without letting this happen. The reality is it’s built on something not much different from slavery.”

Let’s talk: Is it worth the inflated cost of loaf of bread to have “sweatshops” on every corner? Will you continue to shop at 7-Eleven knowing how they treat their workers? 

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. It goes to show why labour forces became unionised. For all their faults without them this exploitation and that of the fruit pickers shown in an earlier show would be more wide spread. Workers rights and a sense of fairness is non existent with so many employers. Pack packers, overseas students and illegal workers are ripe for abuse.

    3 REPLY
  2. No of course not however they aren’t the only ones a previous 4 Corners told of the exploitation of overseas students by the salad and vegetable growers. I’m wondering if anything was done or is it back in the too hard basket.

  3. No I am not. The young Indian boy who works in our local 7eleven seems to work by himself all day six days a week . He always has a smile on his face and his super polite

  4. It is far broader than 7/11, My nephews wife works at a coffee shop and the owner employs mostly Asians because they won’t complain, it doesn’t stop at her hourly rate either this guy has never paid into a Super Fund for her, and is always telling the staff he is going broke, he is a mongrel.

  5. Back in “the good old days” there were lots of milk bars and corner shops open from 6am til late. Nearly all the shops had a house behind and were run by families, including school-age kids, who lived in the house and were on call all day. There are still some of these shops around and they are still usually run by recently arrived migrants who are prepared to work all hours for very little pay. We certainly cannot expect that to continue with company owned stores such as 7-Eleven. Either we accept that we need to pay more for our out-of-hours indulgences or we go without.

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