AMIEU Coles Members National Newsletter December 2014

On 1 December 2014 Coles and the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association (SDA) reached agreement in principal for a new enterprise agreement which will encompass all meat units around Australia. Until this deal only Queensland and the Northern Territory were under the retail agreement and all the other states still have existing stand-alone meat unit agreements.

The AMIEU has bitterly opposed this deal and has done everything possible to prevent any agreement being made that substantially reduces terms and conditions in the meat units.

The SDA however has elected to agree with Coles in their push to get rid of meat unit agreements and so the proposal at the moment is that they will soon roll out a new enterprise agreement which will cover meat units around the country.

The immediate effect is that all those meat unit workers whose agreements have not yet expired will continue to work under those agreements until they do expire, at which point you will transfer to the retail agreement.

This is not a done deal yet. The agreement has to be put to a vote of the all the workers affected by the agreement (including those currently under agreements) and we will be campaigning heavily to see the deal rejected by the workforce.

This proposed deal not only eventually extinguishes our meat agreements and along with them our bargaining strength, it also eliminates most of the conditions that we have fought hard for over many years.

Whilst the proposal will ‘save’ current workers from most of the effects of the removal of penalty rate and other monetary conditions, it does not protect you from many of the changes to rostering.  Aside from that we are all aware that ‘saved’ employees are generally more like ‘targeted’ employees and Coles will simply avoid as much as possible rostering any of the workers wherever that worker costs them any penalty rates during those times.

Our experience with savings provisions in the past usually consists of the following effects:

  • Avoid as much as possible rostering anyone who is entitled to penalty rates during any such penalty hours
  • Find minor issues of fault with those employees in order to get rid of them
  • Make life generally hard for them so they quit
  • Bargain away the saved penalty rates and conditions at the next round of bargaining

We ask members to be ready to support a national Vote NO campaign and talk to and encourage other store workers to do the same.

A full summary of the agreement will go out soon and we will also do a full explanation document for all members so that you know exactly what the deal entails but a brief overview is that whilst many conditions are saved as previously mentioned, the following is a short version of major changes:

  • Packer classification eliminated and new meat unit workers become store team members at the lower (except Tasmania) store team member rates
  • Flexibility clauses allow for meat packers / cabinet attendants to be rostered anywhere within the store and for any length of time (classification is eliminated and therefore they are no longer meat unit workers)
  • All penalty rates reduced to meet the store penalty rates which also eliminates numerous penalties including up to 75% for Saturday work, 25% loadings for evening work and the reduction from 100% to 50% on Sundays
  • The provisions for rosters to include mandatory weekends off or up to 3 day weekends where particular rosters are worked are eliminated
  • Wherever junior rates are higher in meat agreements they will reduce to the store agreement rates
  • WA location allowances are reduced by not paying the additional rates where dependants or partial dependants are involved
  • RDO’s eliminated
  • Removal of adult rates where they are paid to junior packer / cabinet attendants currently
  • Removal of shift penalty rates (allowing Coles to roster later into the night without penalty rates)
  • Removal of penalty rates paid on sick leave
  • Removal of picnic days
  • Choice of superannuation funds restricted to REST only.

Our Victorian and Tasmanian agreements have expired and those branches of the Union have applied to the Fair Work Commission to commence industrial action in those states.

More news soon.

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

Graham Smith
Federal Secretary