Supermarket behemoth Coles has this morning announced it managed to underpay scores of its store managers in a wage theft scandal that runs to a fairly staggering $20 million.

Coles officials unveiled the company’s half yearly results this morning, but as part of that management issued the almost unbelievable admission that a pay discrepancy, representing a figure roughly 1% of its total workforce, had been discovered.

The underpayments stem from differences in salaried store managers’ payments and the General Retail Industry Award, and occurred over the past six years.

Part of this morning’s announcement flagged a plan to repay the owed wages along with interest and various additional costs. Of the $20 million, $12 million in backpay is owed to store managers at Coles Supermarkets, while $3 million at Liquorland and other Coles liquor outlets is owed to around 5% of its total staff. An additional $5 million in interest payments and costs makes up the remainder of the $20 million.

Coles chief executive Steven Cain apologised to affected staff in a short statement issued this morning along with the underpayment admission, asserting “We are working at pace with a team of external experts to finalise our review. Once completed we will contact all affected team members, both current and former, to remediate any identified differences in full,” and that “Coles has implemented steps to improve our systems and processes.”

Coles officials are said to have self-reported the company to the Fair Work Ombudsman this morning. Affected staff were notified of “inconsistencies” in work and conditions last week.

Image: AAP