We refer to the store team newsletter posted throughout Coles supermarkets nationwide on 31 July and titled Growing together – Thank You!

This outrageous piece of deception gives workers the impression that the AMIEU is cooperating to create a single store team enterprise agreement.

The absolute fact is that the AMIEU has steadfastly and resolutely rejected such a proposal.  Any inference to the contrary is an absolute lie!

Coles have now laid out their plans to absorb not only the meat unit workers into the general store team but also have a grab at all of our superior conditions.

The AMIEU have put up a log of claims for a NATIONAL MEAT UNIT AGREEMENT.

This is aimed at protecting all of our current hours of work restrictions, penalty rates, pay rates and flexibility agreements rather than be merged into the single store agreement, but Coles have now responded to each of the 76 claims we made and their approach is to put some into ‘saved’ provisions of the retail agreement and the rest will just be wiped out if they get their way.

They are attempting to disguise a couple of limited temporary benefits as advantages in order to induce workers to agree to their proposal.

The only real benefit of the Coles proposal is for all of the butchers nationally to transition over the life of the agreement to the highest current butchers rate of pay, which is $949.70 currently.

The same applies to Meat Trades Assistants and Meat Managers who will move to $873.70 and $1044.70 respectively.

This of course is of no benefit to the workers in NSW who are already on those rates.

But it is all downhill from there.

Packers / cabinet attendants, with the exception of Tasmania who are on the same rates as the general store workers, will have their current rates frozen and as pay rises are granted by the proposed agreement they will only get half of those pay rises until the general store rates catch up to them.  The classification of packer / cabinet attendant will be removed and cease to exist meaning that all of the current staff move to become retail workers under the retail agreement.

Not only will these workers only get half of whatever pay rise is finally agreed but they will lose the protection of the current meat agreements for flexibility of work within the store.

What Else Are Coles After?

Essentially the answer is: everything that is superior to the retail agreement including;

  • Roster times including the current minimum daily guarantee of 6 hours for permanent workers in some states, the maximum number of starts being 19, current starting and finishing times.
  • Roster restrictions including the current guarantees for maximum starts, time off for weekends, the current guarantee in some states for workers to get a three day weekend where workers do two Sunday starts in a month, the arrangements in some states for weekend work to be voluntary,  and how often rosters can be changed.
  • Penalty rates.  The retail agreement has no penalty rates except for between midnight and 5 am, and reduced penalty rates for weekend work (time and a half for Sunday work). This alone will be enormously expensive to meat unit workers who regularly receive penalty rates on their ordinary rosters and has the potential to eliminate the meagre benefits mentioned on the first page for butchers.

The AMIEU have steadfastly maintained good conditions within the meat units and curbed the ability for meat workers to be used out in the store as much as possible.  All of these conditions now are in Coles sights.

We now need all of our members nation-wide to get involved to protect your conditions.  This is the first time that we will have had to work together nationally to defend ourselves but we need EVERYONE to get involved NOW.

Another newsletter will be out soon to tell you how we are going to fight.  Get ready to answer that call to arms because we need to bring Coles to its knees and stop this disgraceful grab at your livelihoods and lifestyle.

When it comes to an agreement that reduces your current terms just remember Coles’ policy when it goes to the vote:

Graham Smith
Federal Secretary