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Former 7-Eleven Employee Fights for Underpaid, Exploited Workers

A 7-Eleven convenience storeA former employee of a 7-Eleven franchised store in Australia is speaking out against convenience store chain operators who continually underpay and exploit workers, allowing them to pocket the extra money they collect through an employee cash-back scheme.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported yesterday that Bharat Khanna has learned from more than 20 workers in Northern Sydney, Newcastle and Central Coast that although their pay shows on paper $25 an hour, the correct rate, they are asked to hand back approximately $9 per hour in cash to their managers. That leaves them with underpaid rates of $16 an hour. Khanna is quoted saying,

It's all done verbally because they don't want to keep any record. On paper everything is good. When people say no to handing back the cash, they no longer have a job. People are still not getting pay slips or proper breaks.

Khanna has now accepted a job with the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees' Association, and is touring university campuses to raise the awareness of overseas students about their rights to work. The organization, which represents employees in retail, fast-food and warehouses, is partnering with United Voice, representing hospitality workers and housekeeping cleaners. This week, they are launching a national campaign and hotline that will provide free advice for the students.

Khanna said students eagerly take jobs paying $10 to $15 an hour, only to find once they convert it to their own currency it is not enough to pay their expenses. He said he knows of students who fail their expensive university subjects because they have kept working excessive hours for meagre salaries, causing them to have their visas canceled.

My concern is that the exploitation is still happening and it's happening on a broader level. It's not just 7-Eleven who are doing it. I would say the franchisee model is very bad in this country.

SDA's national secretary Gerard Dwyer said a new amnesty for 7-Eleven workers appearing before a Senate inquiry into the exploitation of the company's workers should be extended to all international workers. Currently, many are being deported for breaching their visa conditions by working more hours than permissible because their pay is too low. He said "a key way to the problem was head office taking a 50 to 56 percent cut of a franchise owner's profits." Dwyer added,

This gives franchisees the incentive, some would say the imperative, to pay below legal wages.

The Herald report stated that a 7-Eleven spokesman said the company was aware of the "repugnant" cash-back practice and was working to eradicate it. It said,

The 7-Eleven store agreement provides franchisees with a guaranteed yearly gross income of $310,000 for fuel stores and $340 for non-fuels stores. If a franchise is not making this amount, 7-Eleven will adjust monthly charge to cover this minimum gross income.

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Article: 7-Eleven Workers Continue to Be Exploited

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About Janet Sparks

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Public Profile

Janet Sparks is the former publisher of the Continental Franchise Review, an industry newsletter that covered the franchise community for over 30 years. She has also been a columnist for a leading franchise magazine for the past 13 years. Today she is an independent journalist who engages in investigative reporting, tackling complex issues that impact the franchise industry.

Janet can be reached at jsparks@bluemaumau.org or at 303-799-7398.