The Abbott government has just been accused of running a production system that produces the Abbott’s produce for its own consumption, and is then paying its employees for doing the same job.
The ABC’s Marketplace program uncovered that Abbott’s producers, Anthem, are not only running the system, they are running a system of payments for their workers that are the same as those employed by Abbott’s own companies.
The $500-a-day payouts, paid to workers at Abbott’s Canberra office and its Melbourne headquarters, are an arrangement that has not previously been disclosed.
The payments are not disclosed because they would breach privacy laws.
They are, however, an arrangement not previously disclosed.
They were first uncovered by Marketplace reporter Ben Brumley, who also uncovered the arrangement at Abbott HQ, where the company pays workers in Canberra $500 a day for the job they do.
Brumley’s report found that Anthem pays about 50 people a day in Canberra to make about $500 each, but the bulk of them are non-unionised and are not unionised.
The arrangements are set out in contracts between Anthem and its suppliers, which are publicly traded companies, according to documents obtained by Marketplace.
Brumbley was unable to find any record of the arrangement between Anthem’s Canberra and Melbourne offices, and there is no record of Anthem paying the workers at the Canberra offices.
In response to Marketplace’s inquiries, Anthem told the ABC that it “does not comment on individual contractual arrangements”.
Anthem declined to comment on the payments made to workers in its Canberra offices, saying: “Anthem pays its employees in accordance with its own guidelines, which can be found on our website.
Anthem has a commitment to all of our employees that we will treat them fairly, fairly fairly fairly and fairly”.
Antony said the payments were not disclosed to workers, but it is “a matter for Anthem” whether to report them.
“We don’t comment on whether our employees are paid on time or not, and we don’t have to disclose that to them, they can take that information with them and report it to their union if they want,” it said.
“Anthem doesn’t comment, on its own, on any employee’s pay or their wages.”
Antony’s contract with the company says it will not be “subsidised, endorsed, or reimbursed by any government, public body or government agency”.
Antion’s contracts with its suppliers say that it has a “zero-tolerance policy against discrimination and harassment of any kind”, and it will “not discriminate or engage in any form of behaviour that would be deemed to be discrimination or harassment”.
The ABC contacted Anthem, but did not receive a response by deadline.
The Federal Government and the ACT Government have both confirmed they are investigating Anthem’s payments to workers.
The ACT Government said in a statement to the ABC: “The ACT’s Fair Work Act has already been updated to prohibit any payments that are based on the employer’s decision to fire or to terminate an employee.”
Anthem told Marketplace it is aware of the ACT and Federal Government inquiries and would take action.
“Any company that is involved in an unfair payment scheme will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, which includes any applicable laws, including discrimination laws,” Anthem said.