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Scentre buckles on reporting wage theft, workers’ rights

The ACCR has a long history of lobbying at the retail landlord’s annual meetings for better reporting on worker issues.

The retail giant’s agreement will result in the ACCR withdrawing a planned shareholder resolution that would have called for additional reporting on the group’s cleaning contracts.

Scentre, the owner of Westfield shopping centres, is Australia’s largest retail landlord and one of the largest procurers of commercial cleaning services in Australia, an area identified as high risk for modern slavery.

Under the agreement, Scentre Group will disclose not just the processes for identifying and mitigating risks within their cleaning supply chains, but also how work, health and safety obligations are monitored and the efficacy of grievance mechanisms available to workers.

“It reflects the seriousness of wage theft in the cleaning sector, and also the added risk to the company, investors and consumers in a COVID environment if cleaners are underpaid and unable to access sick leave,” ACCR’s workers’ rights director Katie Hepworth said.

“Property owners are on notice. Investors want to know how they are meeting their obligations to cleaners and keeping us all safe.”

Scentre will report its 2020 full-year financial results later this month, but, hit by the COVID-19 fallout early last year, it reported a $3.6 billion interim loss in the first half of 2020.

Legislation introduced in 2019 in Australia requires large companies to report on modern slavery.

The pandemic, at its peak, gutted foot traffic in major shopping centres around the country, forcing many stores to close and putting significant pressure on landlords’ rental income from tenants.

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