Woolworths denies it pays starvation wages to workers who deliver for the company.
Senator Tony Sheldon accused the supermarket giant of turning a blind eye to the working conditions of UberEats delivery employees.
Woolworths denies paying starvation wages
Senator Sheldon has long fought against wage theft and challenged Woolworths’ representatives at a parliamentary inquiry today.
He said the company had shirked its responsible sourcing standards by using UberEats workers.
“Numerous academic reports of UberEats work has been paid significantly below the minimum wage on average about, $10.42 an hour in some cases, as low as $6.67 an hour and others.
“They don’t show their workers receive a living wage.
“Aren’t you perpetuating a starvation wages strategy if you don’t have a proper oversight and require these companies to be paying workers comp and paying minimum wages?”
In response, Woolworths representative Laura McManus said it is not responsible for companies outside of their supply chain that fail to uphold workers’ rights.
“The follow-up and active verification of our (responsible sourcing) standards has not yet extended to what we would call our non-trade supply chain, which is where the Uber partnership falls,” she said.
“This work is determined to be independent contracting. That is what the Fair Work Commission has determined it to be. We‘re operating well within that.”
No evidence workers paid low wages
Woolworths insists there is no evidence that workers who deliver for them are earning starvation wages.
Representative Tom Windeyer said:
“We don‘t have any evidence of someone earning $6.67 whilst delivering for Woolworths on any of our platforms and we don’t believe that’s the case.
“If there was evidence of particular participants really earning $6.67 while delivering for us, I would want to investigate.”
Workers deserve living wage
Industrial advocate Miles Heffernan from IR Claims said all workers deserve to earn a living wage.
“It is outrageous that gig companies can operate in Australia without paying the minimum wage,” he said.
“In addition, they don’t pay other entitlements such as holiday and sick pay and superannuation.
“It’s time the government cracked down on this, because we are fast creating a class of working poor in Australia, and that’s completely unacceptable.”
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