Chiselling fools. Domino’s Pizza Enterprises has been one of the country’s better performing companies, expanding its pizza reach via fast home delivery service in Australia, Asia (especially Japan) and deeper into Europe, with a big deal in France mid-year. The shares have surged from just over $22 to more than $51 in the past year as investors have cottoned onto the growth story. But a story on news.com.au yesterday reveals that the WorkChoices mentality of screwing employees, especially teenagers, is alive and thriving among the board and senior management of this star stock. It is a high-flying performer on the ASX. But at store level, it’s another story.

“Brisbane-based Domino’s has confirmed that as of 7 December, all in-store and supervisor casual employees will be ‘offered’ permanent part-time roles instead — but it’s an offer they can’t refuse.

“Staff were informed two weeks ago of the new national policy, but many were told they had to sign the new contracts and accept a $2.37 pay cut from $11.86 to $9.49 an hour, or they would simply not be given any more shifts.”

Glenn Dyer

Who, us? Domino’s would defend the move by claiming the part time staff will be entitled to some holiday leave and other benefits — but what use is access to holidays for a teenager when they get school holidays, and have to go to school anyway? It is a meaningless benefit that is being used to cloak the real reason: cost cutting through slashing wages.

In a statement to news.com.au, a Domino’s spokesman didn’t dispute the pay cut, saying: “This is contrary to what was instructed to our corporate store managers. We are happy to receive more information so we can address this with the store and management in question.” She further clarified that staff at the Runaway Bay store “were instructed to think about the conversion for no less than 24 hours and if wishing to convert could they please return the contracts by Saturday 28 November”. — Glenn Dyer

But take a closer look. When you look more closely at Domino’s you find out just how mean-spirited and nasty this cost-cutting move it because you find there’s one rule for the board and management and another for the staff.

The notice of meeting for the company’s AGM, held on November 4, reveals that shareholders were asked (and then approved) a proposal to boost the fees paid to non-executive directors by 25%, or $200,000 — taking fees to $1 million. The last pay rise for these hard-working folk was back in 2013. Obviously they are desperately overworked. The Domino’s board is in need of sustenance. After all, it only includes three multimillionaires: Domino’s chairman Jack Cowin (he’s a director of Fairfax and of Ten and also the founder Hungry Jack’s in Australia); Ross Adler, a former CEO of oil and gas group Santos until 2000; and Don Meij, Domino’s CEO and a very rich man indeed. — Glenn Dyer

Follow the money. The 2014-15 annual report reveals that Cowin (who is worth hundreds of millions of dollars) was paid $179,378 for playing the role of director and chairman at Domino’s. Adler was paid the same amount. And poor Don Meij was paid $3.115 million for CEOing one of the best-performing companies on the ASX in the past year or more. His pay jumped from $2.2 million in 2013-14, a rise of nearly 50%. No pay cut for Don. He also has 1.4 million options to buy shares, which, if exercised now, would be worth a gross $70 million at current prices on the ASX. So Domino’s wants to up the pay of executive directors while cutting $2.37 an hour from part-time teenage employees and others. That is unfair and is redolent of the discredited WorkChoices thinking of John Howard.

When did WorkChoices work its way back into everyday Australian business life? No wonder so many young people don’t trust business and regard them as out to feather their own nests at the expense of others. That might be unfair, but this move of Domino’s is pretty sneaky (coming just before Christmas) and the company and its management should know better. Real wages are weak, inflation is low and consumers are spending money — Domino’s net profit jumped 51% to just over $64 million in the year to June. Greed is good, so long as its from the senior managers and the board, but not employees. Those $5 pizzas have to be paid for somehow! — Glenn Dyer

Peter Fray

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