‘Exploited’ staff take Krispy Kreme to court over pay

POPULAR doughnut chain Krispy Kreme is facing legal action to kill its WorkChoices-era "zombie" agreement amid accusations it is exploiting workers by paying below award rates.

The action, filed yesterday in the Fair Work Commission in Brisbane, comes amid controversy about the underpayment of often young and vulnerable food and beverage sector workers.

That includes hospitality giant Merivale's Sydney pub empire coming under the spotlight over a long-expired 2007 agreement stripping workers of overtime and penalty rates.

It was only axed in the Commission last year after the hospitality union took action on behalf of two casuals.

Mele Tulimaiau is a Queensland-based Krispy Kreme staffer who has filed an application in the Federal Court Brisbane registry today to overturn its zombie agreement used to keep wages below the modern award. Picture: AAP Image/Richard Gosling
Mele Tulimaiau is a Queensland-based Krispy Kreme staffer who has filed an application in the Federal Court Brisbane registry today to overturn its zombie agreement used to keep wages below the modern award. Picture: AAP Image/Richard Gosling

And ex-staff at Queensland's Mantle Group Hospitality have called out the use of a 20-year-old agreement to strip casuals at its Pig 'N' Whistle pubs and other venues of penalty rates.

Krispy Kreme, whose parent company is based in the US, has up to 1000 workers - nearly a third of whom are aged under 21 years - working in 30 locations across four states. That includes about 200 workers at three stand-alone manufacturing sites, in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria, where thousands of its glazed doughnuts are pumped out each day.

One of those, Eagleby resident Mele Tulimaiau, 23, filed an application to terminate Krispy Kreme's 2008 so-called zombie agreement in the Fair Work Commission yesterday.

The agreement expired in 2011, but continues to apply until it is formally terminated.

Ms Tulimaiau is supported by the United Workers Union, which represents Krispy Kreme manufacturing staff.

 

Krispy Kreme has about 200 workers at three stand-alone manufacturing sites, in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria, where thousands of its glazed doughnuts are pumped out each day.
Krispy Kreme has about 200 workers at three stand-alone manufacturing sites, in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria, where thousands of its glazed doughnuts are pumped out each day.

 

A team trainer at Krispy Kreme's Loganholme processing facility on $21.50 an hour, she said she was worse off under the agreement than the award covering food manufacturing workers.

Payslips submitted to Fair Work showed she missed out on shift and weekend penalties, leaving her out of pocket by up to $150 a week.

United Workers Union food and beverage director Susie Allison said Krispy Kreme had been paying hundreds of Australian workers wages well below community and industry standards.

Krispy Kreme went to Fair Work last year to approve a new enterprise agreement, but it was dismissed as the Commission was not satisfied it had been genuinely agreed to.

 

A Krispy Kreme spokeswoman disputed the union's calculations. She said its base hourly rate of pay was higher than the award and would be higher again in the proposed new agreement, which she said would have enhanced benefits.

"We are following a process overseen by the Fair Work Commission which allows our employees to vote on a package which provides immediate increases in take home pay and a pathway for career development. It's in everyone's interests to resolve it as soon as possible," she said.