Coles supermarket workers go on strike at NSW warehouse

Supermarket giant Coles’ largest NSW warehouse has been hit with strike action that a union says could threaten supplies in the lead up to the busy Christmas season.

United Workers Union members voted to have rolling 24-hour stoppages from Thursday over jobs and benefits.

More than 350 workers at the distribution centre in Smeaton Grange are battling to keep their jobs in the face of automation, the union said in a statement on Thursday.

Some workers had worked for the company for more than 30 years.

Workers want improved redundancy entitlements, the right to transfer to the new Coles warehouse, job security in the form of a permanent to casual ratio and an increased wage offer.

“Workers at Coles Smeaton Grange are taking action today because they’re fighting for the right to have a job,” the UWU Matt Toner said.

Coles is building a new automated warehouse but so far had refused to give workers at Smeaton Grange an opportunity to be redeployed to the new facility, he said.

“Workers want the right to keep their job at the new facility and if not want to be respected for the many years of service they have given to ensure Coles’ profits, even throughout this global pandemic,” Mr Toner said.

More voting planned
Workers will be voting on whether to continue the 24-hour stoppages over the coming days.

Coles has threatened workers with a three-month lockout, the union claims.

“With one of its largest warehouses in NSW out of action, it’s hard to see how there will not be disruptions to supply especially over this busy Christmas period.” Mr Toner said

Coles says industrial action at its largest NSW warehouse won’t affect grocery supplies at its stores in the lead-up to Christmas.

“To ensure that our stores can continue to offer a full range of products for our customers through the Christmas and New Year period, we have made alternative arrangements for products ordinarily distributed from the Smeaton Grange distribution centre,” a spokesperson said on Thursday.


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