Zimbabwean Student Makes Claims of Racial Abuse and Poor Pay

Kholi Dhliwayo slogged it out at Moorabool St’s 7-Eleven store for two years, sometimes working 12 hour days, for $10 an hour and no penalties despite the minimum casual rate being about $21.60.

Mr Dhliwayo, who came from Zimbabwe to study a masters of architecture at Deakin University, said he needed the job to help pay for an exchange to the United States where he would further his studies.

The Workplace Ombudsman is investigating 7-Eleven stores around Geelong after receiving complaints that some bosses were underpaying staff.

7-Eleven has refused to discuss the allegations.

Mr Dhliwayo said he suspected he was being underpaid but did not know his rights. He has since left the job, which he said had left him numb.

"It was terrible and it was not a good time," he said.

"There were drunk people and a lot of racial slurs. They would say ‘go back where you come from’ and ‘what are you doing here’.

"It was not a good feeling to be subjected to that.

"I guess the racial taunts were worst than actually not being paid properly."

Mr Dhliwayo said it was difficult for international students to get jobs and were forced to take whatever was offered.

"It’s a catch 22. Do I take the job and get $10 an hour or do I not have a job at all," he said.

"It did make me feel angry because I felt like I was being taken advantage of.

"It creates an underclass and it’s not just 7-Eleven."

Mr Dhliwayo graduates in October and said he would then decide whether or not to stay in Geelong.

"I don’t have a very good impression of Geelong when I was working," he said.

"I really thought there would be more acceptance."

Mr Dhliwayo said his friends who worked at other places in Geelong were also underpaid and were subjected to bullying and threats if they reported rogue practices.