The paper aims at reviewing the inquiry involving 7-Eleven franchise stores with the allegation of underpaying employees. There is an outline of the concepts and theories that are prevalent in the industrial relations system. These theories include Pluralist, Unitarism and Marxist. There is a brief description of the 7-Eleven inquiry. This includes the conclusions that were made, the process that was used in the inquiry and the difficulties encountered along the way. Several gaps in the industrial relations system that made it possible to the exploitation of employees have been outlined too. This includes both internal and external failings. There is also a provision of recommendations that help to curb such problems in future. The recommendations focus on both holistic and individual solutions.
The relevant concept of Industrial Relations with regards to this discussion is that of viewing industrial relations as a process of control and regulation over organization tasks, the workplace relations, relations between employees and their respective representative and relations between employers and their representatives among others. Relevant theories include Pluralist, Unitarism and Marxist theories. The pluralist theory assumes that employees and employers normally have differing objectives at the workplace. It views conflict as being inevitable, and it is caused by the difference in values and opinions (Kelly, 2012). The theory views trade unions as an integral part of industrial relations and reiterates collective bargaining as an efficient means of enhancing employment rules. Unitarism theory on the other hand, sees the employees and management as sharing common interests. The theory views trade unions as an unwarranted intrusion to any workplace environment and reiterates that collective bargaining causes unnecessary divisions of interest. Marxist theory on its part argues that trade unions ought to raise revolutionary consciousness among the workers and that collective bargaining only merely accords temporary accommodations (Teicher et al., 2013).
The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) conducted an inquiry on 7-Eleven franchise networks. The need for the inquiry was as a result of the allegations towards systemic non-compliance with regards to federal workplace laws. The inquiry identified that several franchisees had been falsifying records so that they can disguise wage underpayments. Approaches used by 7-Eleven did not help in identifying or addressing non-compliance (Natalie, 2016). There had been concerns from FWO and other relevant agencies regarding 7-Eleven’s compliance since 2008. Employees had been lodging complaints for the past seven years with allegations of underpayment of wages. Since 2009 up to 2014, the agency expected to see changes on issues to do with compliance, but this did not materialize. FWO commenced its inquiry into 7-Eleven on the basis of continued intelligence and concerns. This was conducted in stores across NSW, Queensland and Victoria in June 2014 (Natalie, 2016). Assessment of 20 stores provided the agency an opportunity to identify the causes of non-compliance.
7-Eleven was fully engaged as the inquiry continued. However, Fair Work Ombudsman noted that investigations into the stores were marred with sign
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