Australia Post is at the centre of claims some principal contractors are underpaying their sub-contractors, and in some cases not being paid for sorting parcels, following a story that aired on ABC’s 7.30 Report last night.
The program also revealed allegations Australia Post contractors were hiring foreign students to work in contravention of their student visas.
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One former parcel driver, Aman, who claims he worked for Melbourne-based delivery contractor Harmony Xova, told the program he delivered Australia Post parcels for one year.
He said during that time he was only paid for each parcel delivered and worked up to 14 hours a week unpaid on a weekly basis.
“There is no sorting money. So, for two to three hours every day, Monday to Friday, sort the parcels and everything, that is unpaid,” he told the 7.30 Report.
The program revealed Aman had been underpaid thousands of dollars because of the alleged practices.
It also revealed the Communications Electrical and Plumbing Union (CEPU) had taken several Melbourne-based delivery contractors to the Fair Work Commission, including Harmony Xova, after other workers complained they weren’t paid fairly and should have received superannuation and sorting money.
Harmony Xova, through its lawyers, argued to the union the men were subcontractors, not employees, according to 7.30.
In a statement provided to the ABC by Harmony Xova’s solicitors, the company denied the workers were employees.
“Consequently there can be no question of under-Award payment,” the company said.
An Australia Post spokesperson told SmartCompany Australia Post could not comment on the cases before the Fair Work Commission, which were yet to have concluded.
The spokesperson says Australia Post’s contractors are a critical part of its delivery network “directly responsible for millions of customer interactions each week” and any allegations of underpayments were taken very seriously.
“Australia Post has contractual relationships with many small business owners across Australia who form a vital part of our national mail and parcel delivery network,” the spokesperson says.
“Our contracts require them to follow the law and provide appropriate working terms and conditions for people they employ.
“There are regular checks in place to ensure that contractors abide by all relevant workplace laws.”
“If there is evidence that a contractor is not complying with these laws, Australia Post will investigate the matter and exercise any appropriate contractual rights to remedy the situation.”
“This includes termination of their contract/s.”
SmartCompany was unable to contact Harmony Xova prior to publication.
*The headline and lead sentence in this article were changed at 1.37pm on July 8 to reflect that the allegations involve sub-contractors rather than contractors