Media release

Woolworths underpayments a warning for governance of broader supply chains

The recent Woolworths’ underpayment scandal raises questions about the company’s management of its broader supply chains.

The Australasian Centre of Corporate Responsibility (ACCR) has been engaging directly with Woolworths on workplace issues for over two years. ACCR has contacted Woolworths today and asked to meet to discuss investor concerns regarding extreme wage theft in the company’s operations.

Dr Katie Hepworth, Director of Workers’ Rights at ACCR, said today:

“The scale of underpayments is unprecedented, and points to serious deficiencies in Woolworths’ internal governance procedures.

“This raises questions about how the company is overseeing their obligations to workers in its operations and broader supply chains, which require complex oversight systems, and where the consequences of mismanagement are severe.

“Failures to properly resource or operate payroll systems to ensure the legal payment of workers point to a culture of non-compliance that devalues employees.

“While Woolworths has only disclosed underpayments in one section of their business, questions must be asked regarding the presence and extent of wage theft in other sections of their business, and how they are meeting all their obligations to their workforce, including superannuation and leave conditions.”