Fast food giant Hungry Jack’s has come under fire for seeking interns who are paid under a taxpayer funded scheme to make up its summer workforce.
The program means that Hungry Jack’s does not have to pay the workers any wages, leaving the bill entirely up to the taxpayer.
How the internships work
The internship program offers job seekers under the age of 25 a $200 a fortnight payment on top of their unemployment benefits.
That would equate to $4 an hour on top of their benefit payment, if the intern was working the maximum 50 hours every fortnight.
Companies that take on interns receive a $1,000 payment from the government, and $10,000 more if they end up giving the intern a job.
As it currently stands, by enlisting young people under the program, Hungry Jack’s doesn’t have to pay them any wages.
The union response
The Retail and Fast Food Workers Union slammed Hungry Jack’s for a newspaper advertisement seeking people to apply for one of the internships.
Union secretary Josh Cullinan told ABC News that he was “outraged” that government resources were funding the internships, which denied other job seekers proper paid positions over the busy Christmas period.
“These Christmas casual jobs in past years were a simple way for current workers and school leavers to get work over the summer period,” he said.
“These were real jobs that were paid for by Hungry Jack’s.
“Hungry Jack’s already had pitifully low wages — having abolished penalty rates and other conditions under their old zombie enterprise agreements.
“This shows that they will ruthlessly find any means possible to pay our members even less. It must stop.”
What the experts say
Industrial relations advocate Miles Heffernan from WAGETHEFT.net.au said the government sponsored internship program had been a spectacular failure.
“With much fanfare, the federal government promised the program would generate 30,000 internships a year, well in the first 18 months, they have only managed to sign up 4,785 job seekers, and most of the positions have been in retail,” he said.
“It has hardly launched the careers of many young people.
“As for Hungry Jack’s – the taxpayer should not be footing the bill so it can get away without paying their workers proper wages during the busy holiday period – it’s a rort being funded by public money.”
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