Following an explosive worker exploitation scandal, 7-Eleven Chairman Russ Withers and Chief Executive Warren Wilmot have handed in their resignations.
The statement from 7-Eleven reads
Mr Wilmot offered his resignation following the recent realisation of the extent to which 7-Eleven franchisees had underpaid workers. Mr Wilmot acknowledged it would be difficult for him to play a central role in navigating the Company through the current challenges it faces given his long standing executive role and that a new independent CEO was appropriate in the current circumstances.
Mr Wilmot will stand down as CEO immediately, while Chairman Russ Withers will remain the Chairman of the group’s holding company.
The resignations come in the wake of a joint investigation by ABC’s Four Corners and Fairfax last month. It revealed that up to 60% of 7-Eleven Franchisee staff were underpaid.
The investigation claimed that some workers were required to work for 40 hours per week for as little as $10 an hour, and an average of $12. The current award is $24.69.
In a statement earlier this month, Chairman Russell Withers took responsibility:
As the founder and chairman of 7-Eleven Stores Pty Ltd, this stops with me.
I accept that responsibility and have directed my board and senior executive that we must fix this.
Our franchise business model is based on trust and mutual benefit.
I am deeply disappointed and dismayed that some people with whom we are in business have abused that trust.
Our company is urgently addressing two fundamental issues.
The first is underpayment of staff by franchisees.
7-Eleven established an independent review headed by Professor Allan Fels and Professor David Cousins.
It is well-known that we have funded and established an independent panel, led by Professor Allan Fels with Professor David Cousins, supported by Deloitte who will be providing forensic accounting services.
I again urge anybody who works or has worked for a 7-Eleven franchisee, and has been underpaid or has participated in any activity leading to their underpayment, to contact the panel on 1800 619 802 or online at www.7elevenindependentpanel.deloitte.com.au.
The panel’s terms of reference are designed to protect confidentiality, to assess claims of underpayment and – where determined – make good on that underpayment.
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