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October 31, 2019

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Woolworths underpaid workers

Australian retail giant Woolworths yesterday admitted underpaying workers up to AU$300million (US$206 million), the latest in a string of big businesses that have failed to properly pay staff.

The payment shortfall by one of the country’s largest grocery chains is the largest in Australian history and follows a series of wage scandals that have affected some of the country’s biggest names.

Woolworths estimated that about 5,700 staff had been underpaid between AU$200 million and AU$300 million dating back to 2010.

“We unreservedly apologize,” CEO Brad Banducci said in a statement.

“The highest priority for Woolworths Group right now is to address this issue and to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.”

The retailer said it would begin making back payments, including interest and retirement contributions, before Christmas.

Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker described the underpayment as a breach of Australia’s workplace laws on a “massive scale.”

Unions have warned that so-called “wage theft” is becoming an entrenched business practice in Australia and are calling for harsher penalties for companies that flout workplace laws.


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