Update 9 May 2013

The current Coles/BiLo Retail Agreement 2011 expires in May. According to the gossip on the grapevine the discussions/negotiations between the SDA and Coles were underway in February/March 2014.

On 7 April 2014 Coles put out a written notice to the 'Store Team Members' saying that they were going to have a national enterprise agreement. This information sheet said that the 2014 national enterprise agreement would include coverage of meat unit workers despite the fact that they are already covered by separate AMIEU enterprise agreements in New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia.

The AMIEU had not been informed of this Coles proposal before 7 April 2014.

The AMIEU considers that this is a reprehensible and underhand ploy to eliminate the meat union agreements. We understand that the proposed elimination of the AMIEU agreements was also proposed for the Transport Workers Union agreements.

At the same time as notifying the AMIEU Federal Secretary (they did not inform the States who have signed agreements) of their intention; Coles informed the AMIEU that negotiations would occur at the SDA on 22 April.

The AMIEU Federal Executive has had several meetings to discuss the Coles proposals, both in person and in phone hook-ups.

Obviously, because the current AMIEU EBAs do not expire in the immediate future we have not had the opportunity to prepare logs of claims or discuss the issues with members before 22 April.

We understand that if a national agreement (which covered meat workers) were signed and registered before the expiry dates of state agreements the AMIEU members under state agreements would have no right to take protected action. We are placed in the position of negotiating with one hand tied behind our back. This could explain the timing of the process.

On 22 April the meeting took place at the SDA offices in Melbourne. The SDA and AWU log of claims was put forward by the SDA. Coles tabled a business requirements document which gave an idea of their direction. The AMIEU expressed concern with the entire process that has been proposed as did the TWU.

The meeting  on 22 April was an initial meeting only and the next one will take place on May 14 and 15.

The AMIEU expressed further concern that the process proposed is totally contrary to the collective process where the participants in the negotiations for EBAs are delegates from the shop floor supported by the officials. Because the AMIEU has pursued Coles to allow delegates greater involvement they have agreed to allowing a number of delegates to attend the May 14/15 meeting on paid time.

On Tuesday 13 May there will be a meeting of Coles Delegates at the AMIEU Offices Level 2, 62 Lygon Street, Carlton South Victoria 3053 to discuss the Coles Enterprising Agreement proposals.

Talk to your delegates and organiser ask what is happening. Don't act like an ostrich, don't keep your head in the sand and hope it will all go away.