Trolley bully fined $120,000

A shopping trolley collection company operating in NSW and Victoria has been fined $120,000 after a court found it underpaid and bullied more than 40 of its staff. Xidis Pty Ltd, trading as Effective Supermarket Services, and its sole director and shareho

A shopping trolley collection company operating in NSW and Victoria has been fined $120,000 after a court found it underpaid and bullied more than 40 of its staff.

Xidis Pty Ltd, trading as Effective Supermarket Services, and its sole director and shareholder Nick Iksidis underpaid its staff in the NSW border town of Albury by more than $100,000.

In his decision, Federal Magistrate Philip Burchardt said the company had intimidated and exploited its employees, many of whom were very young or suffered from intellectual disabilities.

“This was a case involving a number of disabled people. All the employees involved in this sort of work were likely to be vulnerable to a greater or lesser extent,” Burchardt said.

Some employees worked as many as 50 hours per month without pay, while others were consistently paid below the required rate.

The seriousness of the underpayment was compounded by the “aggressive, offensive and threatening” response workers received when they queried their pay.

“They were given deliberately confusing contracts of employment and bullied if they stood up for their rights”, Burchardt said. Conduct that was “totally inappropriate” and “wrong”.

The Workplace Ombudsman, which brought the prosecution, presented evidence to the court that employees had been given complex and hard to understand contracts to intimidate them.

“I also accept that the employees were given contracts of employment of considerable complexity… governing matters totally irrelevant, such as ownership of inventions and the like… not inadvertently, but as part of a general tactic by the employer to intimidate,” Burchardt found.

This is the second time ESS has been prosecuted for underpaying staff. Late last year it was fined $25,000 for underpaying three staff in Victoria, with the court making similar findings of exploitation and intimidation in the case.

The Workplace Ombudsman successfully prosecuted three other trolley return operations earlier this year, achieving fines approaching $30,000 in each case.

“It is apparent that this is an industry with what might be described as widespread problems,” Burchardt said.

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