Caltex franchisees will take to the streets today in protest against what they say is “punitive and punishing treatment” by Caltex Australia.
In reaction to reports that 650 Caltex retailers have underpaid staff, a statement from the protest group said the company will charge each franchisee close to $10,000 for an audit conducted by Ernst and Young. [Correction: there are around 600 outlets in the Caltex Australia network. The number of those accused has not been officially revealed]
Around 150 fuel retailers will gather in Martin Place, Sydney at midday today to stand against the “heavy-handed” measure, which includes provision of personal records and documents such as passports and working visas.
The chairman of the protest group (as yet unnamed) said that under the Privacy Act, franchisees were not allowed to disclose that information, and that the audit bill was unfair and immoral.
“We are happy to help Caltex catch any perpetrators but they are tarring all of us with the same brush. The vast majority pay our employees correctly and all Caltex wants to do is brand us all as cheats,” he said.
The franchisee group said the audit bill to each business was excessive.
“Given the amount of documents Caltex is compelling from franchisees, the Caltex franchisees do not consider this to be a realistic estimate of the likely costs they will be asked to pay.”
“We are happy to help Caltex catch any perpetrators but they are tarring all of us with the same brush. The vast majority pay our employees correctly and all Caltex wants to do is brand us all as cheats.”
The group has also raised the question as to why Caltex Australia has “never provided training or guidance to its franchisees regarding employment obligations until underpayment allegations have recently surfaced?”
The chairman said that Caltex CEO Julian Segal was “self-serving and treating his franchisees with disdain”.
C&I Week has approached Caltex Australia for an interview with Julian Segal.