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Friday 24 July 2020 - Wyong Distribution Centre strike action and site closure

 

Comments from Woolworths Chief Supply Chain Officer, Paul Graham:

"We’ve made the difficult decision to close our Wyong Distribution Centre until Wednesday (29 July) in response to the strike action taken today.

"While we fully respect the right to strike, we need certainty in our supply chain to continue providing the essentials the community relies on, especially in the current COVID-19 crisis. 

"To minimise disruption to our customers, we have enacted our contingency plans out of other distribution centres and will service store deliveries from these sites.

"We’ve negotiated in good faith for four months and accepted a number of claims from the bargaining representatives, but we won’t agree to unsustainable pay demands and the removal of basic performance expectations.

"The deal on offer is more than reasonable in the current economic climate and in the context of the Fair Work Commission’s recent decision to increase the minimum wage by 1.75 per cent. It will deliver certainty to our team members and help secure Wyong’s viability in our network. 

"We ask the bargaining representatives to reconsider the offer on the table because further industrial action won’t change our position."

Background information

Woolworths has decided to take employer response action in response to the protected industrial action (strike action) taken by the employees on Friday 24 July. This is in the form of a lock out that will start at 5am on Saturday 25 July and end at 4:59am on Wednesday 29 July. The site will be closed during this period. This action is taken under the Fair Work Act. 

The proposed Enterprise Agreement (EA) offer Woolworths has put to bargaining representative includes the following enhanced conditions for the site’s 550 team members:

  • Wage increases of 9 per cent over three years for level 1 and level 2 team members, and 6 per cent over three years for level 3;
  • Redundancy provisions increased to a maximum of 82 weeks (up from 40 weeks);
  • 10 days domestic and family violence leave for permanent team members (5 paid; 5 unpaid); and
  • Permanent team members to receive up to two days paid leave if unable to attend work due to a natural disaster. 

The wages in the proposed EA are up to 48 per cent higher than those provided under the Storage Services and Wholesale Award.

According to ABS data the average wage increase across the private sector in the March 2020 quarter was 2.1 per cent. On 19 June 2020, the Fair Work Commission announced a 1.75 per cent increase to minimum wages for the Financial Year 2021. The minimum wage increase in the Storage Services and Wholesale Award commences from 1 November 2020.

The United Workers Union are proposing a two year deal with the following unsustainable pay increases:

  • Year one - 16 per cent (for level 1) and 9 per cent (for level 2 and above); and
  • Year two - 4 per cent (for all work groups).
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