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Watchdog prosecutes retail giant

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There was encouraging news for workers at retail as Australia’s workplace watchdog launched prosecution against private-equity owned sports retailer A-Mart All Sports over allegations of forcing young casual staff to work without pay before and after their shift.

Workplace Ombudsman Nicholas Wilson Friday indicated he would prosecute the company over its treatment of 28 workers at two of its Tasmanian stores, media reports said.

A-mart is owned by Ascendia Retail which is made up of Archer Capital, a small Sydney leveraged buyout firm, and company management. The allegation was that the company forced the workers, most of whom were aged under 20, to start work half an hour before their shift started, but prevented them from showing the extra time on their timesheets.

The company also allegedly asked to its staff to perform unpaid duties such as cleaning after the completion of their paid shift.

“Some people may think that 30 minutes unpaid work is not all that significant,” Wilson said.

“However, it is utterly unlawful for employers not to pay workers, and the Workplace Ombudsman will not tolerate such conduct,” he said.

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