A Fair Work Ombudsman Inquiry has found that cleaning contractors at 90 per cent of Woolworths’ Tasmanian supermarket sites were not complying with workplace laws.
“Our Inquiry found deficiencies in Woolworths’ governance arrangements with regard to its procurement and oversight of cleaning contracts, resulting in serious exploitation occurring at multiple levels of its cleaning supply chain,” The Fair Work Ombudsman said.
“We uncovered breaches across 90 per cent of Woolworths’ Tasmanian sites, including cases of contractors paying cleaners as little as $7 per hour for training and $14 per hour for work – well below their legal entitlements.”
The Fair Work Ombudsman said that cleaners were often paid in unrecorded cash-in-hand payments with no payslips provided.
“Overall, record-keeping by contractors engaged at Woolworths’ sites was abysmal: at 84 per cent of sites workplace records were inaccurate or not kept at all.
“The impact of record keeping failings is exacerbated by the use of cash payments which, while lawful, make it difficult to determine with any certainty the extent of underpayment of wages by the contractors.
“Such blatant and widespread breaches of workplace laws are clearly unacceptable, and echo the findings of our previous inquiries into supply chains employing low-skilled and vulnerable workers,” Ms James said.
More than $64,000 in underpayments have been identified during the inquiry so far.
The Fair Work Ombudsman has initiated two litigations as a result of the Inquiry and has also referred three contractors to the Australian Taxation Office concerning cash payments and misleading or false tax declarations.
Investigations into a number of businesses that supply cleaning services to Woolworths in Tasmania remain ongoing.
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