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:
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.