Drakes Supermarkets facing underpayment claims in class action lodged in Federal Court

Australia’s culture of “insecure” work is fuelling wage theft claims against retailers, think tank the Australia Institute says, as a class action is launched against another major supermarket chain.

The latest underpayment claims have been levelled against independent retailer Drakes Supermarkets, which runs more than 50 stores across South Australia and Queensland.

The class action lodged by Adero Law in the Federal Court alleges Drakes workers were not paid allowances and entitlements owed from performing overtime and penalty work.

Workers “experienced unlawful deductions from their weekly pay purportedly in respect of the cost of their work uniform items,” the statement of claim said.

It said the Adelaide-based chain required staff members to “work additional shifts on days when they were not rostered to work (including on weekends) to cover the absence of other employees”.

The ABC has contacted Drakes Supermarkets for comment.

Adero Law has ongoing claims against independent retail group Romeo’s and SA convenience store chain OTR, and launched previous action against retail giants Coles and Woolworths.

Earlier this year, Coles admitted underpaying staff across its supermarket and liquor stores and set aside $20 million to pay back employees, while Woolworths began paying back up to $300 million in December.

Other large organisations recently found to have underpaid staff include the ABC, which started repaying hundreds of employees late last year, as well as Michael Hill jewellers and the company behind Gloria Jeans and Donut King.

Economist Alison Pennington, from progressive think tank the Australia Institute’s Centre for Future Work, said the retail sector had witnessed a “systematic regime of wage theft” in recent times.

Alison Pennington said penalties were not strong enough to stamp out wage theft.(ABC News: John Gunn)

“Insecure work and wage theft go hand in hand,” she said.

“It’s a race to the bottom for workers in these sectors, but it’s also a race to the bottom for economic growth and stability long-term. No-one wins from this.”

Ms Pennington said another problem was that the types of penalties imposed were often not strong enough to deter wage theft.

“The relative risk to an employer of dealing with a class action may be worth taking if they do actually pocket a windfall of many millions of dollars in unpaid wages,” she said.

“It’s going to take much more awareness of rights and conditions of workers in the workplace themselves, but much stronger compliance systems.”

Employee with cancer reluctant to take sick leave

Adero Law associate Richard Murray said the class action against Drakes currently involved 81 workers, but that up to 1,500 current and former employees may be eligible to join.

He said Drakes Supermarkets could owe up to $20 million.

“Staff were paid an annualised salary and not according to the hours they worked each week,” he said.

“I think retail workers in particular are quite vulnerable to this kind of underpayment.

“Corporations either deliberately or inadvertently are not applying the award correctly so that these large scale underpayments are occurring, and it’s unfortunately become quite prevalent in the last couple of years.”

Craig Schoneweiss
Former employee Craig Schoneweiss is the lead claimant.(ABC News: Paul Adams)

Lead claimant Craig Schoneweiss said he was underpaid over a decade working for Drakes Supermarkets in South Australia and Queensland.

He said he had been scared to take leave to address medical concerns while he was in the role, but went to a doctor after he resigned and was rushed to an emergency department after being diagnosed with testicular cancer.

“They didn’t like you taking sick leave and you almost felt like it was coming out of your own manager’s pocket,” he said.

“I fear that if I had continued my employment with Drakes, my cancer would’ve gone unnoticed and untreated.”

The Australian Retailers Association declined to comment on the case against Drakes, saying it did not “comment on matters that are subject to legal proceedings”.

In a recent submission to a parliamentary committee into wage theft, the association described the federal inquiry as a “populist, jingoistic witch hunt”.

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Anthony Martial responds to Edinson Cavani arrival amid Man Utd “con” claims

Anthony Martial believes the signing of Edinson Cavani will help Manchester United’s pursuit of silverware this season.

The veteran striker, who left Paris Saint-Germain in the summer following the expiration of his contract at the Parc des Princes, joined the Red Devils on a free transfer earlier this month.

Cavani’s arrival at Old Trafford has brought some much-needed experience to Manchester United’s attacking unit.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s decision to acquire the Uruguay international’s services raised plenty of eyebrows, with many wondering why the Norwegian has opted to take a punt on the 33-year-old.

Manchester United signed Edinson Cavani on a free transfer earlier this month

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Martial has no such reservations over the signing of the former Napoli man, which he reckons is a “positive” for the team.

“He’s a really great player, he’s proved exactly that all the way through his career, and I hope that he’ll manage to help us out,” the Frenchman told Manchester United’s official website.

“It’s always a positive to have even more quality within the group and as there are always a lot of fixtures to play.

“When one player is rested, it will allow us to ensure that there is no drop-off in quality whatsoever. That’s especially important for the team.”

Martial’s comments on the arrival of Cavani come amid a drought in front of goal for the 24-yar-old, who has failed to find the back of the net in four appearances this season.

Cavani is likely to spearhead United’s attack, which Martial did to great effect last season, alongside Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood.

Martial’s woes in front of goal this season recently prompted criticism from Red Devils legend Paul Scholes, who told Stadium Astro: “These forwards are exceptionally talented lads. We all know that.

“The problem with United’s forwards is that none of them is an actual centre-forward.

Anthony Martial believes Edinson Cavani’s arrival at Old Trafford is a “positive” for Manchester United

“Martial almost conned us into thinking he was one at the end of last season because he scored so many goals and was quite good.

Manchester United will be back in action on Wednesday night, welcoming RB Leipzig to Old Trafford for their second Champions League Group H match.

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US Election 2020: Georgia’s black voters fired up amid claims of intimidation and suppression | US News

Joe Biden heads to Georgia on Tuesday in a final push for votes in the deep south Peach State which – for the first time in decades – has emerged as an electoral battleground.

If the Democrats win here, it’s likely to signal doom for Donald Trump’s re-election bid.

The state has already broken all previous records for early voting with an explosion in polling enthusiasm unmatched here before.

But the voting fever has been accompanied by escalating claims of voter suppression and other tactics to try to alter the outcome in an area where the black vote is seen as potentially crucial.

There have been daily long lines of voters queuing up to cast their ballots, with some waiting as long as 11 hours on 12 October, the first day of early voting.

“A lot of intimidation tactics have occurred in the state of Georgia,” says Fenika Miller of the Black Voters Matter campaign group.

“People seem to have a problem with black people exercising their right, as if we don’t belong. And we know that voter suppression and voter intimidation is as old as American pie.”

Fenika Miller says volunteers go out in groups amid ‘intimidation tactics’

The rising tension could be because after decades of voting staunchly red the race in Georgia is now too close to call – latest polls suggest the candidates are neck and neck.

Huge billboards in downtown Atlanta urge people to vote and vote early.

Giant coloured murals exhort residents to have their say in what many see as the most important election of their lifetime. Even ATM machines carry messages to cast your ballot.

“I’m not voting to get a president in,” one elderly woman told us as she hobbled into the polling station at Cobb County. “I’m voting to get a president out.”

Some people claim hours-long queues are an attempt to suppress their vote

The tight race is due to myriad reasons. The first and possibly most substantive is the changing demographics of the state’s capital, Atlanta.

Over the past few years, there’s been an upsurge of black, Latino and Hispanic workers gravitating to the city.

Many are thought to be more likely to vote Democratic. Those we spoke to cited what they view as Donald Trump’s racist policies as their prime motivation for voting against him.

Police brutality and the disproportionately high number of black Americans killed by police – throughout the country as well as in Georgia – also appears to have galvanised the black vote, particularly among the young.

The president’s reluctance to condemn white supremacists is viewed as divisively inflammatory and many clearly feel threatened.

We saw several heavily armed men wearing body armour and carrying weapons marching alongside a group of mostly young voters on their way to vote at the city’s State Farm Arena. “V.O.T.E.”, they shouted, “Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote!”

“You never know when the attack is going to come… you never know who… or where it’ll come from,” one of those carrying guns told us.

Destiny Britt says she is fighting for future generations
‘We are literally voting for our lives,’ says Destiny Britt

Among the marchers was 22-year-old Destiny Britt.

“We are literally voting for our lives,” she said.

“If the president has said that the people who are directly fighting to kill black people are good people… I don’t know what else would make you feel frightened for your life… I’m fighting for my life and my children’s life and other generations.”

The Sky team in Georgia has spent the past few days visiting multiple early voting polling stations and found the overwhelming majority were deeply suspicious about the long queues and difficulties in casting ballots.

In Marietta, just north of Atlanta, many spoke of their concerns about the three-hour-long wait.

“Voter suppression is going on and there are various ways governments are now trying to suppress the vote,” Curtis Cheeks told us.

“And one of them is long lines keeping people from voting.”

In the offices of the Black Voters Matter group, in Warner Robins, a throng of volunteers was told by their organiser, Fenika Miller, that they had to find fresh reserves of energy to canvass as many potential voters as possible in the last full week.

“We need to really make a final push, a hard push, right?” she implored them.

She sent volunteers out in twos and threes “for safety reasons”. We weren’t on the campaign very long before we saw why.

Organisers are giving a final ‘hard push’ to get people out to vote

”He just told us to get the eff out of his neighbourhood,” Takeria Mathis said, motioning towards a bare-chested white man a short distance down the same street.

Do you feel intimidated by that we asked: “No,” she replied with a smile.

Do you feel worried? “No.” Do you feel angry? “No.” What do you feel? “Strength,” she said – without missing a heartbeat.

Georgia’s not entirely unaccustomed to claims of voter suppression.

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They remember what happened in 2018 like it was last week. Then they saw the Democratic contender for governor, Stacey Abrams, lose by around 50,000 votes in a highly contentious ballot which many including Ms Abrams felt was ‘stolen’.

Many voters complained then of waiting an excessively long time. Many gave up or stayed at home, others complained of being removed from the electoral roll.

In the primary elections in June, there were complaints about the new electronic voting machines malfunctioning.

The doubts appear to have only enthused the voters even more, and there’s been a massive concerted effort to try to engage with Millennials and Generation Z voters.

By initial accounts, it seems to have worked.

Early voting among Georgians under 40 is thought to be more than three times what it was in 2016, with around 600,000 young voters already casting their ballot.

‘There’s a lot at stake and we need some change,’ says rapper Jeezy

First-time voter Maddison Myers waited more than two hours to vote at Marietta: “I’m really surprised at myself that I stayed in the line because when I was at the end, at the back of it, I just wanted to get back in my car.”

He told us the main motivation was to try to push Donald Trump out.

“It’s not really about his politics,” the 18-year-old told us. “I just hate the man and what he stands for.”

Motivation to vote among his band of fresh school leavers though, he emphasised, was very high: “We’re all messaging each other, saying you’ve got to vote.”

But President Trump still retains popularity in the whiter Atlanta suburbs, making it the closest run presidential race here in decades. And while niggling problems exist and voting lines increase as the days count down to election day, the doubts are also likely to mount over the vote.

One of the city’s most famous rappers Jeezy, very publicly cast his vote at the State Farm Arena polling station. “This’ll probably be one of the most important elections ever, if I’m honest,” he told Sky News.

“There’s a lot at stake and we need some change. We got to get out here and let our voices be heard so that’s why we here.”

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President claims media is breaking ‘election law’ as ‘epic meltdown’ interview is released

US president Donald Trump, claims to have done ‘maybe a great job’ with coronavirus (AP)

Donald Trump is complaining on Twitter about “COVID, COVID, COVID” coverage in the media as he heads into the final week of campaigning, even suggesting reporting on a pandemic amounts to “election law violation” after the country recorded its highest number of new coronavirus infections so far over the weekend, reporting more than 84,000 cases on Friday and 79,000 on Saturday.

The president’s aborted interview with CBS show 60 Minutes was finally aired on Sunday night, with Mr Trump seen claiming his administration has done “maybe a great job” in fighting back against Covid-19 and losing his temper with presenter Lesley Stahl when she confronted with his own past comments on decrying “fake news” as a tactic to discredit unfavourable press coverage.

On the campaign trail on Sunday, the president also provoked confusion when he claimed falsely to have won two Nobel Peace Prizes during a rally speech in Londonderry, New Hampshire.

For more on who’s leading the race for the White House, follow our dedicated US election polling liveblog


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Giant supermarket says it is ensuring prohibited claims are not visible on products, after stickers spotted on Cheerios boxes

SINGAPORE: The company that runs Giant supermarket said on Monday (Oct 26) it is ensuring advertising claims prohibited by the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) are not visible on its products.

This comes after CNA found redacted advertising on the packaging for Cheerios 100 per cent wholegrain oats. The words “can help lower cholesterol” had been covered with a translucent white sticker, but were still visible. 

“We are ensuring that the claims are not visible by double layering the stickers,” a spokesperson from Dairy Farm, which runs the Giant and Cold Storage outlets in Singapore, told CNA.  

According to Singapore’s food regulations, food products – unless permitted – must not be labelled or advertised to have any therapeutic or prophylactic actions. They must not advertise that they can prevent, alleviate or cure any disease or condition affecting the human body.

In addition, the labelling or advertising cannot say that consumers can achieve health or improved physical condition by eating the product.

“Food businesses importing prepacked food with claims not allowed under the Food Regulations, may remove the claims by striking them out or by means of sticker labels,” an SFA spokesperson told CNA last Thursday.

“Food businesses should ensure that the unpermitted claims are not visible to consumers at the point of sale.”

When asked specifically about the visible claims on the Cheerios cereal sold at Giant, SFA confirmed last Friday evening that it was investigating.

The Dairy Farm spokesperson said it is standard practice in supermarkets to cover up non-compliant claims.

“At Dairy Farm, if a product contains multiple non-compliant claims, we will stop carrying the product for consumer safety and welfare,” the spokesperson said.

“We have not received any feedback from customers regarding (the Cheerios cereal in question) so far.”

Under the Sale of Food Act, it is prohibited to sell any food that is labelled or advertised in a manner that is false, misleading or deceptive or is likely to create an erroneous impression regarding its value, merit or safety.

First-time offenders can be fined up to S$5,000, and, in the case of a second or subsequent conviction, fined up to S$10,000 and/or jailed up to three months.

“The industry is responsible to ensure that any food labelling claim complies with the requirements of the Sale of Food Act and Guide to Food Labelling and Advertisements,” SFA said.

“The industry should refer to SFA’s Guide to Food Labelling and Advertisements which contains detailed information on food labelling and advertisements.”

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Fla. man claims he was fired in retaliation for sharing a letter about layoffs under Biden administration

Screengrab courtesy of WESH.

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UPDATED 12:24 PM PT – Saturday, October 24, 2020

A Florida man has claimed he was fired after he revealed a letter from his employers that warned of potential lay-offs if Joe Biden wins the upcoming election.

Stan Smith said the letter warned: “if Biden and the Democrats win, Daniels Manufacturing Corporation in Florida could be forced to begin permanent layoffs in late 2020 or early 2021.”

President Trump and Democratic candidate Joe Biden. (Photo by JIM WATSON,SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

The company’s president, George Daniels, reported it was his duty to notify employees of potential outcomes in the workplace following the election.

President of the ‘Job Creators Network‘ Elaine Parker also defended the letter and stated it was not about revenge over election results.

“Employers have the right to educate their employees about the negative impacts of policy,” claimed Parker. “We believe that they have the obligation to do so.”

Smith was allegedly fired for sharing the information with a media source as well as falsely accusing Daniels of voter intimidation. He plans to file a lawsuit over his termination.

MORE NEWS: Colo. Churches Win Lawsuit Against COVID-19 Restrictions

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Hey Doc claims second Manikato in thrilling race under lights

“We have targeted this. He needed those couple of runs; he’s an older, bigger horse now. It’s been a target from a long way out and just unbelievable to pull it off.”

Diamond Effort was controversially scratched from the Manikato earlier in the night, as was wet tracker Order Of Command, after the realisation that predicted rain was not going to arrive until after the meeting.

Diamond Effort’s trainer Clinton McDonald was scathing over the firmness of the track.

“It was a [good] three before the first and the policy states the track has to be a [good] four,” McDonald said.

“I spoke to [MVRC chief executive] Michael Browell and he said the weather forecast was for 20 mils of rain.

“I said ‘it doesn’t matter if there’s 100 mils of rain’, the policy is a good four and what happens after that is in the lap of the gods.

“You can’t be punting on the weather. If you start punting on the weather, you’ll be losing every time.

“She is a mare that can handle good ground, but it’s rock hard out there and I don’t want to take the chance.”

McDonald said Diamond Effort would run next Saturday at Flemington on Derby day.

It was a night of fast times, with three track records being pushed and one being broken after the club decided to leave the track firm in the expectation of heavy rain before the Cox Plate meeting.

Written Beauty stamped herself as a horse to follow from the meeting after she broke Nature Strip’s 1000-metre record but co-trainer Wayne Hawkes played down her ability.

“I don’t think she’s quite Nature Strip’s class,” Hawkes said. “I hope she does get to that stage, but to be fair we all know the track is firm and [track manager] Marty [Synan] couldn’t do anything about it. The Cox Plate is race 17 [for the weekend] – what else can he do?”

Synan said he hoped the overnight rain was over before the first race on Cox Plate day.

“I’d like to get all of the rain out of the way by 10am,” he said. “We can handle 20mm but 30mm would be too much.

“With 40km/h winds the track will dry out after the rain, although it is expected to be a southerly wind which isn’t quite as drying. If we get all the rain through the night then I’ll be happy.”

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Victoria Police says it won’t investigate Vatican wire transfer claims

London: Victoria Police says there is no evidence to warrant an investigation into allegations that Vatican funds were used in an attempt to secure the conviction of Cardinal George Pell.

Italian newspapers La Repubblica and Corriere della Sera earlier this month claimed a rival of Pell’s, former cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu, was suspected of arranging for €700,000 ($1.1 million) to be transferred to people in Australia to support the prosecution of child sex abuse charges against Pell.

The papers did not provide any evidence to support the claims, which have been circulating privately among Pell’s supporters for several years.

Australia’s financial crimes watchdog, AUSTRAC, recently examined the reports and provided “information” to the Australian Federal Police and Victoria Police.

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