SA Unions says today's announcement by Caltex that it will establish a $20m assistance fund for ripped-off workers is a shocking admission of chronic worker exploitation.
The company made the announcement this morning after months of media coverage about entrenched underpayment of workers across the country - including at franchisees in South Australia.
SA Unions State Secretary, Joe Szakacs says Caltex has revealed that it has taken action to audit franchisees and has terminated agreements with 19 franchisees for wage theft or other non-compliance workplace audit requirements.
"Caltex has made a point of saying that the establishment of the new Fund will not prejudice the ability of franchisee employees to see redress from their employers."
"SA Unions Young Workers' Legal Service and the SDA have been representing a group of employees from multiple businesses in South Australia involving more than ten petrol stations in total."
"These workers were not given pay slips, they were underpaid - earning as little as $12 an hour - and in some cases, there was no tax paid on their wages."
"The problem with Caltex's new Assistance Fund is that it only allows employees to claim underpayments for the period from 2015 to date."
SDA's Assistant Secretary, Josh Peak, from the union which represents workers in petrol stations, says they are aware of one case in which a young man worked for a franchisee from as early as 2011."
"Because of the inadequacy of Caltex's announcement, a number of our clients will once again be left stranded by Caltex."
"Caltex must expand the time period to fully compensate workers employed by these businesses."