Coles has locked out around 350 warehouse workers at its Smeaton Grange distribution centre after they went on strike this morning.
The workers striking to get improved redundancy payments, with the DC to be closed in about 3 years, will now be locked out without pay for three months according to the United Workers Union.
Smeaton Grange union members are also frustrated that they have so far been denied the opportunity to be redeployed at a recently built automated warehouse, UWU director Matt Toner said in a statement.
“They’re fighting for the right to have a job,” Toner said.
“Workers want the right to keep their job at the new facility and, if not, to be respected for the many years of service they have given to ensure Coles’ profits, even throughout this global pandemic.”
The workers are also fighting for a 5.5 per cent wage increase, according to AAP, despite flat wage growth across most industry sectors and a particularly difficult year in retail.
Coles was quick to note that it had proposed a new enterprise agreement for the DC which would have delivered a 3.5 per cent wage increase and enhanced redundancy provisions to up to 80 weeks’ pay for involuntary redundancies, but the agreement was voted down by workers.
Toner said that the action is likely to impact Coles’ ability to deliver groceries to stores during the lead up to Christmas, but the supermarket said it had made alternative arrangements for products ordered at Smeaton Grange to avoid exactly that.