“We unreservedly apologise to our employees,” AP Eagers chief executive Martin Ward said.
“We unreservedly apologise to our employees,” AP Eagers chief executive Martin Ward said.

Staff fury as car dealer underpays 6200 workers

CAR dealership chain AP Eagers has become the latest Australian company forced to apologise for underpaying its employees.

The firm said about 6200 employees were underpaid a total of $4.5 million over a seven-year period as a result of what it described as "inconsistencies" across award classifications, overtime, superannuation contributions and deductions.

The company said it had noted the issues while centralising its payroll systems, which had previously been managed by individual dealerships, some of which were acquired by AP Eagers in recent years.

After identifying the problem, AP Eagers hired PwC to conduct an audit and then self-reported to the Fair Work Ombudsman.

The company has also committed to undertake a review of AHG's payments to employees following its $2.3 billion acquisition of the company in September 2019.

"We unreservedly apologise to our employees," AP Eagers chief executive Martin Ward said.

"AP Eagers is committed to paying the amounts owed to past and present employees, in full and with interest, as soon as practically possible."

AP Eagers CEO Martin Ward in the company’s Brisbane showroom. Pic Mark Cranitch.
AP Eagers CEO Martin Ward in the company’s Brisbane showroom. Pic Mark Cranitch.

Based at Newstead, the company is Australia's oldest listed automotive retail group which recorded "back-to-back records for our shareholders" over the past two years.

A former salesman for AP Eagers in Brisbane told The Courier-Mail the company was cutting commissions while staff worked longer hours without pay.

"They've just cut everything and yet they make record profits," the salesman said.

"They're not the same company they once were."

The company is the latest Australian entity to fall afoul of workplace rules this year after wages issues were uncovered at Woolworths, Wesfarmers, Commonwealth Bank, Super Retail Group, Michael Hill Jeweller, and even the ABC.

AP Eagers noted the underpayments equated to just under 0.25 per cent of the $2.1 billion in salary it paid during that period.

 

With AAP