ABC has received a legal letter threatening defamation following Four Corners expose on convenience store chain 7-Eleven.
The Australian 7-Eleven chairman has also disputed the extent of the allegations of staff being underpaid and promised to bay the balance of any wages.
“The franchisee is responsible for the employment of staff, and it would be very easy for me to say, ‘That’s their problem, not mine’,” Russ Withers told The Australian.
“We still believe the underpayment of staff is relatively small, and that the vast majority of franchisees are doing the right thing.
“This is embarrassing, it is unfortunate, but there is no way that there was any mass cover-up from head office.”
Meanwhile Labor senator Deborah O’Neill said she would ask an existing Senate committee inquiry into visa fraud to agree to calling representatives from the company to give testimony.
Fairfax reports the Greens are expected to support the call after the party’s industrial spokesman, Adam Bandt, said he would seek a special hearing of the Senate inquiry into the working visa program.
Employment Minister Eric Abetz said he believed the franchisees were to blame.
“But, if there is a franchise or acquiescence in this then of course every Australian would condemn it, because we believe that every Australian ought to be paid according to law, a just day’s work deserves a just days’ pay,” Senator Abetz told ABC.
The Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association has also set up a hotline and a website to help 7-Eleven staff members while the Fair Work Ombudsman yesterday revealed its staff had made 20 spot-checks on stores in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane as part of a crackdown.
7-Eleven has announced an independent investigation following the joint ABC / Fairfax allegations.