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News : Greenpeace, Oxfam Funding Call Centre Underpaid Workers
Sydney, Australia, April 13, 2016 -- A call centre used by Greenpeace, Unicef, Oxfam, The Wilderness Society and other charities to raise money for their campaigns has admitted to underpaying its staff.
MonDial Telephone Fundraising, based in North Sydney, wrote to workers last month confessing to paying wages below the legal minimum, and offering a confidential settlement based on the Call Centre Award.
The company, owned by an Austrian group that trades as Generous Global Giving, and which has about 60 Australian employees, sent the letter after The Australian raised allegations of underpayment with the company and charities that retain its services.
MonDial declined to say how long it had been underpaying staff, but said "a review into historical queries has commenced".
The National Union of Workers believes the underpayments stretched back at least six years to 2010, when the award came into force, and total liability for backpay could top $1 million.
A letter to one employee obtained by The Australian admitted to underpaying up to $6.56 an hour on Saturdays or $52.48 for an eight-hour weekend shift and $2.79 on weekdays.
MonDial chief executive Ashley Rose said: "We had engaged with third-party HR experts prior to you raising this issue; specifically in consideration of employee contracts, award wage rates, policies and procedures. The company has acknowledged the underpayment investigation with our staff and kept them informed through this process."
Mr Rose said MonDial had sent staff new employment contracts confirming their award rate. "We are maintaining our engagement with HR professionals to ensure our obligations and commitments to staff are and remain as they should be."
NUW lead organiser Tim Gunstone accused charities who used MonDial of "hypocrisy" for failing to monitor the employment practices of for-profit middlemen.
"This is a matter of public trust. Charities who trade on their ethical reputation to raise money have a responsibility to guarantee the ethical treatment of workers raising funds on their behalf," Mr Gunstone said. "The good work of charities is endangered by the shoddy and exploitative practices of for-profit fundraisers alongside the lack of any genuine oversight by charities."
Charities said they were unaware of the underpayment until contacted by The Australian.
Greenpeace head of advancement Nicola Norris said: "We expect our suppliers to comply with legal requirements as expressly outlined in their contractual agreements with us. Greenpeace obviously does not condone any employer not complying with their legal obligations to their employees."
A Unicef spokeswoman said: "We can confirm we work with MonDial Fundraising and will be exploring this with them in due course." Wilderness Society national director Lyndon Schneiders said: "We have spoken to MonDial about the issue and have contacted the union to discuss it directly ... We hope the situation can be resolved as soon as possible."
An Oxfam spokeswoman said the organisation would "reconsider our relationship" with MonDial if "it is demonstrated that MonDial has not complied with the requirements of the law".
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Thursday, April 14, 2016