Media release

Woolworths: Wage debt now a third of company's profits

In their annual report released this morning, Woolworths admitted that the costs associated with the underpayment of their workforce are estimated to top $500 million a massive difference from the initial estimates.

This figure revises earlier estimates of $200 million, $315 million and $390 million, representing almost a third of the company’s Net Profit After Tax (NPAT) of $1.6 billion.

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

“The figure raises significant questions about internal governance at Woolworths, which continues to refer to the breach as an ‘inadvertent underpayment’.

“$500million is no ‘accident’. It is the result of culpable ineptitude and a business model that undervalues and disrespects the very workers’ that it relies on to make its profits.

“Investors must ask how many times the company will revise the value of its underpayments, and what the ultimate impact on shareholders will be.

“With the company about to release its first ever modern slavery statement, questions must be asked. If Woolworths cannot ensure that its own employees are paid properly, how can it be trusted to manage the infinitely more complex supply chains that its business depends upon?”