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Australia grants amnesty to scammed students

An amnesty has been granted to the international students who breached their student visas working for retail convenience store company, 7-Eleven, in Australia, it was decided this week.

Photo: screenshot/Four Corners documentary

International students who came forward to help the Fair Work ombudsman’s investigation, will have “no action taken against them”

The company, which was found to have been undercutting wages, employed a large number of international students across its branches who worked more than the 20 hours legally allowed by their visa.

A number of political parties had called for an amnesty to be implemented

However, these international students who had come forward to help with enquiries into the company, will be granted an amnesty from the federal government.

The head office was found to be involved in covering up the pay scam, after a joint investigation was carried out by Fairfax Media and Four Corners.

Internal documents obtained as part of the investigation found that across 225 stores in July and August, 69% had payroll compliance issues. They also detail how stores are manipulating their records and rosters.

The investigation into the company also highlighted victims’ stories, including one former employee, Pranay Alawala, who was underpaid at the four stores he worked at in Brisbane.

Living in Australia on a student visa, he claimed one store owed him over A$30,000.

The company responded threatening to report him to the immigration authorities for working over 20 hours a week, violating his student visa conditions.

A number of political parties had called for an amnesty to be implemented for international students who were victims of the company’s underpaying, as many were reluctant to come forward over fear of being deported.

Michael Manthorpe, the immigration department’s deputy secretary, said at a hearing on Monday that international students who came forward to help the Fair Work ombudsman’s investigation, would have “no action taken against them”.

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