Teenager targets Subway over ‘zombie’ workplace agreement

The meat'ds in the sandwich, but Chantelle Zentveld says workers only get crumbs.<i>Photo: AAP</i>

The meat'ds in the sandwich, but Chantelle Zentveld says workers only get crumbs.Photo: AAP

An Australian teenager has taken fast food franchise Subway to the nation’s industrial relations watchdog to terminate an agreement the union says “rips off” thousands of young workers.

Chantelle Zentveld, who recently turned 17, has lodged an application in the Fair Work Commission to terminate an Enterprise Agreement under which a cluster of 60 Subway employers operate.

The agreement was approved in 2011 and its nominal expiry date was in 2015, making it what is dubbed a “zombie agreement” — a workplace instrument that is past its nominal expiry date but has never been ended or replaced by another one.

Ms Zentveld said because wages and conditions have remained as per the agreement without improving with modern awards, she and others receive no penalty rates, which they would if they were on the Fast Food Award.

“When I started working at Subway, I was told they pay above the fast food award,” she said.

“I can’t even say that this was misleading; it is just blatantly untrue.”

Missing five per cent

All enterprise agreements are approved by the Fair Work Commission and can lawfully operate until the employee or employer applies to end them.

Ms Zentveld said they also only receive 20 per cent casual loading instead of 25 per cent.

“On Boxing Day I worked alongside someone who said they were doing an eight-hour shift and were doing it because it was double pay,” she said.

“It wasn’t even normal pay.”

The Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association national secretary Gerard Dwyer said current industrial laws intimidated young, non-unionised workers into accepting “sub-standard wages”.

“There are dozens of these zombie agreements, many of them dating from John Howard’s Workchoices era, which are leading to thousands of teenage workers being ripped off,” Mr Dwyer said.

“This shocking case highlights a broken workplace bargaining system trapping thousands of teenagers on these zombie agreements.”


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