Fels to head -7-Eleven payments probe

Former competition watchdog boss Allan Fels will head an independent panel appointed by convenience store chain 7-Eleven to investigate allegations its franchisees underpaid staff.


A joint Fairfax-Four Corners investigation earlier this week found up to two-thirds of 7-Eleven stores could be underpaying workers, particularly international students who were threatened with deportation if they complained.

Professor Fels, the inaugural chairman of the Australians Competition and Consumer Commission, will head the two-member panel.

He will be joined by former Consumer Affairs Victoria director and ACCC commissioner Professor David Cousins.

In a statement on Thursday, 7-Eleven chairman Russ Withers said the pair would start work next week and would be backed by a team comprising forensic accountants and other staff from auditing firm Deloittes.

Mr Withers said 7-Eleven wanted to make good any underpayments as soon as possible.

“(Professor Fels) is staunchly independent, and with the support of Deloitte’s forensic accountants, I am confident his involvement will help ensure 7-Eleven pays all approved claims promptly,” he said.

Prof Fels said his Melbourne-based panel would have broad investigative parameters and would seek support from the Fair Work Ombudsman to rectify payment issues.

Earlier on Thursday, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton refused to commit to offering amnesty for 7-Eleven workers that risk deportation after being exploited by their bosses.

“There will be a process for that to go through and we can make comment on that in due course,” Mr Dutton said when asked whether amnesty would be offered to workers scared of deportation.