Monthly Archives: July 2016

School network caught underpaying

The hugely popular Paul Sadler Swimland, which provides 30,000 swimming lessons a week to children across Australia, has been caught underpaying hundreds of young instructors over six years.

A Fairfax Media investigation can reveal that the franchise network, which operates more than 15 swimming schools in Australia and overseas, underpaid staff hundreds of thousands of dollars by breaching conditions and entitlements in the company’s enterprise agreement.

Staff say the original enterprise agreement – which includes no penalty rates for weekend work and has staff classified as seasonal part-time instead of casual – has left some workers worse off than they would have been under the award.

The underpayments, which date back to 2010, are the result of some employees not having their rates increased as their age went up and the incorrect application of grades for more experienced teachers.

Many also did not receive pay for long-service leave despite working at the company for more than seven years.

As well as underpaying staff, the enterprise agreement required them to renew their contracts every 10 to 12 weeks and included a flexibility agreement which reduced the minimum shift rate to 1½hours from three hours under the award.

Snaps up Woolworths

Control of the country’s multi-billion dollar petrol market is set to be turned upside down with UK oil major BP plunging $1.8 billion to buy the Woolworths nationwide chain of petrol stations which will catapult it to the position of market leader, and triggering immediate concerns over the level of competition within the industry.

Embattled retailer Woolworths has been in talks to sell its petrol stations for several months, with Caltex the underbidder. Caltex already supplies the Woolworths network of petrol stations, and it will see its share of the market shrink with the sale.

At present, Woolworths and Coles each hold an estimated 24 per cent of the national market, with Caltex holding 18 per cent in its own name, ahead of BP’s 15 per cent. The purchase of the Woolworths outlets will give BP a dominant 39 per cent share of the national market, sparking concerns that its share of the market could dampen competition.

As a result, the competition watchdog the ACCC, said it is to review the deal, with motorist organisations pushing to ensure any deal does not lessen industry wide competition.

BP’s purchase comes in the wake of the exit of Shell Oil from petrol retailing. It sold its Victorian refinery and 870 branded petrol stations to international oil trader Vitol in 2014, while another global trader, Trafigura, with an African partner of the Gull, CCG, Matilda and Neumann Petroleum outlets in recent years, giving it a spread of 270 outlets under the Puma Energy brand.

“The ACCC has been formally advised of the proposed transaction,” the competition watchdog said in a statement. “We will commence a public review once we receive a submission from the parties.”

The highest level on business

The S&P/ASX 200 Index closed at the highest level since August 2015 in its first trading session since Christmas on fresh interest in the mining giants.

Low volumes typical of the post-holiday period did not hold back a strong open to trading, boosting the ASX higher for the fifth gain in four sessions.

Taking its lead from Wall Street where the Dow Jones again tested the historic 20,000 point mark, a bump in oil and iron ore saw resources stocks lead the local market higher. The benchmark consolidated early gains to close up 57.1 points or 1 per cent to 5,685 points.

The price of iron ore, Australia’s largest export, added 1.6 per cent to $US79.42 a tonne lifting BHP Billiton, up 3.3 per cent to $25.44, and Rio Tinto, up 2.4 per cent to $60.17. Fortescue Metals advanced 3.5 per cent to $5.97. South 32 jumped 3 per cent to $2.81.

Banks were flat with Commonwealth Bank posting the strongest gain of 1 per cent to $83.31.

The price of brent crude oil fell 0.3 per cent to $US55.94 a barrel on Wednesday ahead of production cuts linked to the OPEC deal.

Woolworths will sell its petrol station portfolio to BP in a $1.8 billion deal that will help the retail giant fund its ongoing fight to regain market share in the grocery sector. Shares in Woolworths were 1.9 per cent higher to $24.31. The deal ends months of speculation around the future of Woolworths’ service station business. “The sale proceeds will be used to strengthen the Woolworths balance sheet and reinvest in its core businesses,” the retailer said. Woolworths committed to retaining its fuel discount for shoppers for a further 10 years.

Caltex Australia, which is a supplier of 3.5 billion litres of fuel a year to the Woolworths service stations, fell 2 per cent to $29.99. Caltex was an underbidder in the auction process. “Whilst we are naturally disappointed that the successful fuel alliance will come to an end, it is important that we exercise financial discipline in pursuing growth,” Caltex boss Julian Segal said.

Rival Wesfarmer, owner of Coles, added 1 per cent to $42.53.

Shares in retailer Myer slumped 1.4 per cent to $1.37; the company was served with legal proceedings over its Chadstone store lease last week.

The Australian dollar reversed some of its losses over the past few days and was up 0.3 per cent against the US dollar fetching US72.05¢. Most commodity currencies have fallen against the dollar this past week. The Australian dollar is the sixth worst performing major currency over five days.