Friday, 31 July 2020: Woolworths has made the difficult but necessary decision to take employer response action in response to further strike action taken by workers on Thursday 30 July. 

This is in the form of an indefinite lock out, which started at 12am on Friday 31 July. This action is taken under the Fair Work Act and the site will be closed until further notice.

Woolworths put an improved and conditional offer to the UWU on 30 July 2020, with the following benefits for team members over the life of a three-year agreement:

Pay increases of 3.6 per cent for all team members each year of the agreement;

An additional 50c per hour uplift in year 1 and year 2 for our current level 2 team members with greater than three years service;

Increase to allowances in line with wage offer and back pay for existing levels;

The introduction of a five level classification structure - which includes new Level 2B (team member) and Level 4 (team coordinator) classifications;

Casual conversion mechanism to permanent employment based on length of service, attendance and performance;

Provision of a clause to work towards a 80/20 labour mix of permanents to casuals (excluding certain seasonal periods);

Redundancy provisions doubled to a maximum of 82 weeks (up from 40 weeks) in event of a site closure;

10 days domestic and family violence leave for permanent team members (5 paid; 5 unpaid);

Up to two days paid leave for permanent team members unable to attend work due to natural disaster; and

3 x paid mass meetings of 30 minutes for all team members who are members of the UWU per year.

The deal would have seen team members earn rates of pay up to 50 per cent higher than the Award and above those provided in comparable distribution centre operations on the Central Coast.

The UWU rejected the offer and continued to push for a 13.67 per cent wage increase over two and a half years (5.4 per cent a year). This is more than three times the Fair Work Commission’s increase to the minimum wage (1.75 per cent) and more than double the private sector average (2.1 per cent). It comes at a time when CPI has fallen 1.9 per cent.

Comments (from Paul Graham - Woolworths Chief Supply Chain Officer):

We regret being in this position, but the union’s negotiating tactics have left us no choice.

Our contingency plan is in full swing and holding up well for our customers. We can’t risk destabilising our supply chain with a stop and start operation out of the site at this time.

We put an improved offer to bargaining representatives yesterday, with pay increases and allowances in excess of 11 per cent over the life of the three-year agreement.

We also accepted six further claims from the union, including those on casual to permanent conversions and worker classifications. This was a show of good faith and demonstrated our desire to get our people back to work.

Regrettably the union refused to accept our offer and continued to push for a shorter deal and unsustainable pay increases out of step with economic reality.

We want to re-open the site and get our team back to work, but that won’t happen until this is resolved. We urge the union to reconsider their position and start putting the interests of members ahead of their own.