Former Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, boss Allan Fels will lead the wage scandal investigation, as decided by 7-Eleven. The convenience store franchise announced an inquiry on the underpayment issue by 7-Eleven last week.

Four Corners alleged that some 7-Eleven franchises exploited foreign students by paying them less and making them work for extended hours than what their visas allow. Professor Fels agreed to hold the position of the 7-Eleven investigation panel leader after he claimed that exploiting their workers is the only way 7-Eleven franchises can think of making money with.

Fels admitted that the 7-Eleven investigation panel will have limited powers to examine things during the process. Besides Fels, the panel will have former Consumer Affairs Victoria director and former ACCC commissioner David Cousins as its member. The panel will begin its procedure this week with support from independent secretariat consisting of a forensic experts team from Deloitte.

Fels said that the main focus of the Independent Franchisee Review and Staff Claims panel will be on compensating underpaid labours. “The principal focus is on compensation, on making up, as quickly as possible, underpay ... Whether the underpay was just paying a below award rate or whether it was making people work say 40 hours and paying them for 20,” he said as quoted by .

“The bottom line is, what happened with franchisees not meeting their employer obligations has happened on our watch, and we are going to make this right,” 7-Eleven chairman Russ Withers said via SMH .

Fels specified that the panel would hardly look into the visa related questions. It will only consider those points that play role in underpayment of labour.

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