7-Eleven Australia chairman resigns over wages scandal

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Sydney (dpa) – The chairman and chief executive of 7-Eleven Australia resigned Wednesday after a scandal involving underpaying workers at the company’s Australian stores.

Chairman Russ Withers and chief executive Warren Wilmot announced they had stepped down from the board of the company, the broadcaster ABC reported.

Withers set up the company in 1977 and it now operates 615 convenience stores in Australia. It operates under licence from the 7-Eleven parent company in the United States that runs more than 55,000 stores in 16 countries.

“Mr Wilmot offered his resignation following the recent realisation of the extent to which 7-Eleven franchisees had underpaid workers,” a statement released by the company said.

A media investigation had found franchise owners of the 7-Eleven stores were systematically paying workers half what they were owed, many of them foreign students who were afraid of losing their visas.

An inquiry into Australia’s temporary work visa program found the underpaying of staff in the convenience store chain was systemic and had been happening for decades.

Withers has admitted the behaviour was abhorrent.

“I want to stress that this has been highly embarrassing and I apologise unreservedly to any worker that has worked in a 7-Eleven store who has not been paid correctly,” he told a parliamentary committee last week.

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