Caltex hits back at FWO penalties

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Caltex has defended itself following a recent report by the Fair Work Ombudsman over its franchisee wage practices.

The report claims a former Caltex franchisee in Sydney falsified wage records.

FWO Natalie James says penalties of almost $100,000 were brought against the former operator of Caltex Five Dock service station after the owner admitted falsifying records of the wage rate paid to migrant workers. The penalties were the result of legal action by the ombudsman in the federal circuit court.

However, responding to the report, a spokesperson from the company says it had left its network before the FWO stepped in.

“The operator, who was the subject of the legal action by the FWO, left the Caltex network in 2017,” the spokesperson said.

“Caltex has been and continues to work with the FWO, who investigated some Caltex-franchised sites. The [FWO] has an important role to play in ensuring compliance with Australian workplace laws and has powers to take action where they find non-compliance.

“We have taken the actions we’re permitted by the relevant Codes and under our agreements with franchisees. In mid-2016, we established an audit process which is more than halfway through, and continues with the purpose of uncovering wage underpayment in the Caltex franchisee network.

“Also, an independently run whistle-blower hotline was introduced, along with an assistance fund for franchisee employees who have been affected by the conduct of certain of our franchisees. This fund has paid out more $5.3 million to former employees of franchisees since it was established.

“In March, the FWO issued a report on the 25 Caltex franchise sites it audited around a year ago. Of these, two were facing further action from the FWO with regard to falsifying documentation, and this judgement is related to one of those franchisees.”