Woolworths signs deed with Fair Work following trolley collector exploitation report

Posted by Andrea Hogan on 11th October 2017

Woolworths has a signed a proactive compliance deed with the Fair Work Ombudsman committing to protecting the workplace rights of its trolley collectors.

As part of the deed, Woolworths will monitor its trolley collection service providers, ensuring they pay workers correctly and meet all workplace obligations.

The deed comes after the Fair Work Ombudsman released a report in June 2016 saying some Woolworths trolley collectors were working for as little as $10 an hour.

The deed requires trolley collection contractors to keep employment and shift records with time keeping systems that include geofencing capacity and unique codes for each employees.

Woolworths will be required to audit the employee pay records of all trolley collection services who apply for trolley collection contracts. Trolley collection services who win contracts with Woolworths will be audited annually.

Any trolley collector underpaid since 1 July 2014 will be back-paid, either by their employer, or Woolworths if this is not possible.

Fair Work Ombudsman, Natalie James, said the deed will help address the unlawful practices that have led to widespread exploitation and underpayment of workers with Woolworths’ trolley collection supply chain.

“Our Inquiry found that Woolworths’ existing governance systems were not effective in addressing these issues, contributing to a culture of non-compliance by its contractors,” James said.

“I am pleased that Woolworths has demonstrated its positive commitment to improving its management of contractors by entering into this compliance partnership with the Fair Work Ombudsman.”

Woolworths Head of Facilities Management, Trent Mason, said Woolworths worked collaboratively with the Fair Work Ombudsman throughout the process and had already implemented many of the obligations set by the deed.

“Woolworths will continue to assume overall responsibility for its trolley collection services including continuing to ensure contractors fully comply with Australian workplace laws across its network of sites,” Mason said.

“Compliance with all relevant laws and contractual obligations by service providers is a fundamental part of working alongside Woolworths.”

Deed a “significant milestone” after a decade of work

James said the deed was a significant milestone after a decade of work by Fair Work and its predecessors in addressing the exploitation of vulnerable workers in the trolley collection sector.

The Fair Work Ombudsman has commenced 17 legal proceedings against trolley collection businesses since 2007.

In October 2014, Coles entered into an enforceable undertaking with the Fair Work Ombudsman in order to rectify non-compliance within its network of trolley collection services.


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