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Coles and Woolies staff to strike this weekend

Coles and Woolies staff to strike this weekend
Coles and Woolies staff to strike this weekend

A national strike is set to hit Australia’s biggest supermarket chains, and it’s reported that nearly all major capital cities will feel the impact. 

Workers affiliated with the Retail and Fast Food Workers Union (RAFFWU) will stop assisting customers and other work tasks for two hours on Saturday. Among the grievances are work and pay conditions.

But the supermarkets are not too concerned about the impact, with between 300 and 450 workers set to down tools across Australia. 

There is a list of tasks the employees are refusing to perform, which include packing online orders and clearing loose stock left on the floor or registers. 

Other bans on tasks include the refusal to clean toilets and crush cardboard boxes. 

The union claims on social media X that workers have been forced to “clean up the boss’ (sic) vomit,” calling it an “attack on exploited workers being paid poverty wages.”

Affected stores

Victoria:

Melbourne – Coles Spencer Street

Gippsland – Coles Traralgon Central

New South Wales:

Sydney – Belmore Park, 

Broken Hill – Woolworths Broken Hill

Queensland:

Brisbane – Myer Centre 

Northern Brisbane – Woolworths Narangba

Charters Towers – Woolworths Charters Towers 

Gladstone – Coles Gladstone 

Western Australia:

Perth – Coles Byford

Australian Capital Territory

Canberra – Coles Tuggeranong 

South Australia

Adelaide – Woolworths Aberfoyle Park

Employers’ response

Woolworths is assured the strike won’t disrupt operations to a great extent. Only about 300 employees will take part in the strike. Coles says the impact will also be minimal on their side, with RAFFWU only representing 450 of its staff.

Woolworths has indicated that it’s already in talks with the union to listen to workers’ grievances. 

Coles says: “We remain committed to negotiating a fair and balanced agreement for all. Coles continues to provide above-award conditions under our current enterprise agreement.”

Salary grievances

The supermarket retailers adjusted employees’ salaries by nearly 6% in July. The union says Coles withholds pay to workers who refuse to clean toilets or “dare to speak to customers about industrial the action.”

Coles says the information around the salary dispute is not accurate. “We dispute the misinformation being pushed by the bargaining representative representing less than 0.4% of team members and remain committed to negotiating a fair and balanced agreement for all.”

Disruptions to stores

RAFFWU’s Josh Cullinan has told 7News there will be store disruption on Saturday when workers walk out. “In some stores, there will be one or two courageous workers, but in other stores, it will be half the store that will walk out.” 

Cullinan accuses Coles of paying the “absolute minimum” salary. Among the list of demands, workers also want the employer to deal with “crimes in the workplace.” Staff claim they have been threatened and assaulted, urging the police to investigate. 

About the author

Mia is a multi-award-winning journalist. She has more than 14 years of experience in mainstream media. She's covered many historic moments that happened in Africa and internationally. She has a strong focus on human interest stories, to bring her readers and viewers closer to the topics at hand.

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