An Adelaide company and its director have been fined almost $50,000 for deliberately underpaying 51 supermarket trolley collectors a total of $120,000.
NMD Investments has been fined $41,000 and the company’s sole director and manager Giuseppe Placanica, of Lockleys, a further $7850.
The trolley collectors were paid as little as $10 an hour but were entitled to receive more than $15 an hour. Three collectors were underpaid more than $10,000 each and 13 were short-changed more than $3000 each.
Fair work ombudsman South Australian director Carey Trundle said the workplace watchdog views the exploitation of vulnerable workers very seriously.
“Short-changing low-paid trolley collectors is something we won’t tolerate and clearly the court has taken a dim view of this behaviour as well,” she said.
Placanica admitted in court he was centrally involved in NMD paying the trolley collectors significantly below the federal minimum wage when it employed them on a casual basis for various lengths of time between March 2006 and December 2007.
Placanica also admitted being involved in NMD Investments failing to keep proper pay and employment records and failing to issue payslips.
The ombudsman discovered NMD Investments was underpaying its employees when it audited the company in late 2007 as part of a wider investigation into the trolley collecting industry.
NMD Investments, which was based at Lockleys before it ceased trading in December 2007, has also been ordered to back-pay the money it owes its former employees.