AMIEU Coles Members National Newsletter - DECEMBER UPDATE

Since our last newsletter Coles have put out a memo stating their intention to put out an agreement for all store workers, including meat, to vote on in the near future.

As we said in our last newsletter this is an agreement that has been bitterly opposed by the AMIEU because it strips away meat unit entitlements that have been a feature of our agreements for many years.

There is no doubt that a lot of those conditions will be ‘saved’ for existing employees but rostering will be a lot different even for existing staff.

There is no question that meat staff will get pay rises in this deal but they come at the expense of all those rostering restrictions and protections that members have insisted be in our agreements for many years. Conditions that members have stood up to Coles and in some cases have taken industrial action to achieve.

The Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association (SDA) could well have stopped this arrangement from going ahead by simply refusing to negotiate away our conditions but instead of that they reached agreement in principle with Coles for these conditions and penalties to be eroded.

Members, this is not a good deal.

For some extremely short term gain, which includes miserly 3% annual wage increases, the meat units lose not only the restrictive and protective rostering provisions that we have enjoyed for years and give us quality family time, but major losses in wage rates to new employees to Coles.

New employees will not be classified as packers at all. That classification disappears and new workers will become store based team members who may or may not spend time in meat units and who will be paid the lower store team member rate of pay. The packer rate goes.

This actually means that store team members such as checkout operators can now be rostered to work in the meat units as part of their hours as well.  Ask your local checkout operators how they feel about that!

The real effect of this bad agreement is that it is no good for the other store workers either.

WARNING

You are about to be bombarded with all the spin that comes with people who are trying to sell you a lame duck agreement.

Don’t be fooled by this spin. Look closely at the agreement and discuss it with others. Ask questions and don’t be fobbed off or side-tracked with irrelevant issues by anyone.

We will supply detailed information about what is being lost as the agreement gets rolled out for consideration. Everyone gets a vote in this and both the AMIEU and the Transport Workers Union are caught up in this grab by Coles.

Talk to the other store workers and encourage a NO vote to this shady deal. They have achieved nothing in real terms out of the deal other than a small pay rise and they also should get better. If everyone rejects this deal the company fails and will be forced to reconsider their wage offer.

Three of our branches have now got expired agreements (Queensland, Victoria and Tasmania) and have applied to Fair Work Australia for the ability for those members to take industrial action. Two other branches agreements (NSW and WA) expire in March – April 2015 and will be able to join in then

Members in Qld, Vic and Tas will receive ballot papers soon in the post for this. Make sure you reply and answer yes to all the questions! Without your returns there is no ability to take action!

We must force Coles to back down!

Stand together and achieve a victory. Even better, get the other store workers interested in rejecting this deal to get a better one. We will show the store workers what they are really being offered when the agreement goes out for a vote. I can assure you it’s not much.

All the spin in the world cannot disguise the true intent of this proposed agreement.

The SDA are also hoping for the agreement to get up because by getting rid of the packer classification it means they will try and take the representation rights away from AMIEU members in meat units and put them in the hands of the SDA executive.

Regardless of the outcome the AMIEU will continue to represent meat workers!

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