The NUW is working with Adero Law in a $100 million wage theft action against direct marketing groups AIDA, Credico, Global Interactive and PCA Group.
The wage theft action is for workers who work in direct sales on street corners, going door to door or standing in shopping centres selling products for large corporations or raising funds for charities. Often these direct sales workers would be paid on a commission only basis as individual contractors. This would mean that workers would work long hours, often 10 to 12 hours per day, 6 days per week, for no guaranteed take home pay. It’s common for workers to earn as little as $100 to $300 per week without an hourly rate, overtime or reimbursement for expenses. This system of dodgy contracting is a way for some of Australia’s richest corporations and charities to shift risk onto workers and run away from their responsibility to treat workers with dignity and respect.
"I worked in excess of 60 to 70 hours per week. Some weeks I earned $400 per week and in others less than $30 per week. We had to attend the offices in the morning at a certain time (approximately 8:30 am for new independent contractors and earlier for the others) and return to the office at 6 pm. These hours were consistent and I could not choose the hours to work. I was often told that the sales we made were cancelled and I had no contact with the client or access to any information to verify this. We were paid through a third party known as Certica. I recall calling them a lot at the start to set up an account and provide the TFN." - Ashley Rienzo, former employee at Credico
"During my first week at ADP Security Pty Ltd, I did not get paid. I started getting paid on a commission only basis thereafter. Some weeks I did not receive any pay. I worked for approximately 60 to 70 hours a week and sometimes I did not receive any payment for that week. We worked 6 days a week. On average, I received approximately, $200 to $400 per week." - Roman Kielich, former employee with Credio and ADP Security
The effect of this system was to make workers pay for the uncertainties and failures of a fundraising or sales campaign. In launching this action, the NUW is taking a step to change the rules and ensure direct sales companies and their clients are made to take responsibility for the treatment of their workers. It has the potential to radically shift the way the entire direct sales industry operates.
Further, this action has the potential to positively impact on every worker by setting new precedent that will restrict employers from inappropriately making employees into independent contractors. If you, or a friend or family member, worked in direct sales and you want to see if you are covered by the wage theft action click here to find out. Often times a direct sales worker’s known employer/contractor is a subsidiary entity within the bigger corporate group so it’s worth still checking if you’re covered by the action. If you want to follow the progress of these ground breaking legal actions then like the Facebook page
You can find coverage of the action tyo stand up for workers in direct sales here