Trolley Collectors underpaid

For the second time Coles have been taken to court over the alleged underpayment of trolley collectors.

This time it is for the sum of $149,000 and highlights the importance of making sure your contractors are complying with workplace legislation.

Coles, along with three others, have been taken to court by the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) for allegedly underpaying six trolley collectors in South Australia by $149,000.

While the trolley collectors were employed by contractors, the FWO has issued a damning assessment of the supermarket chain’s involvement, alleging Coles took no action to prevent them.  In fact they were described as “willfully blind” to the underpayments .

The case in involves the trolley collectors working in Adelaide’s northern suburbs allegedly being underpaid a total of $149,530 between January 2010 and July 2011. The trolley collectors were Indian males aged between 27 and 33 who spoke limited English. They worked shifts at the Elizabeth Shopping Centre, the Craigmore Shopping Centre, the Munno Para Shopping Centre and the Northern Market Shopping Centre at Gawler.

FWO alleges that the trolley collectors were paid as little as $8 an hour, when they should have been paid more than $15 an hour for the normal hours of work and up to $34 an hour for some overtime, weekend and public holiday work. The six collectors were allegedly underpaid amounts ranging from $1,052 to $70,194.

While the FWO case alleges that Coles contracted Starlink International Group to provide trolley collecting services at the shopping centres, it claims that Coles knew that, under the contracting prices it paid to the Starlink companies, it was not feasible to provide the required trolley collecting services without undercutting minimum wage rates.

A Statement of Claim lodged in the Federal Court in Adelaide also alleges that Coles had reason to believe – or at least suspect – in 2010 that Mr Al Basry was underpaying trolley collectors employed at Elizabeth, Munno Para, Craigmore and Gawler.

Court documents allege that Coles was wilfully blind to the underpayments and did not take action to prevent them, with the FWO alleging that Coles didn’t terminate its contract with the Starlink companies until July 2011.

This is the second time that Coles has got into hot water with the FWO over its alleged failure to ensure that trolley collecting contractors complied with minimum wage provisions in South Australia.  A case alleging $143,000 of underpayments was launched earlier this year.

Coles vs FWO: monitor contractors or risk court action


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