Coles will end its in-store butcher service this weekend, will assess its meat workers for redeployment or redundancies, and will serve only pre-packaged meat moving forward in what has been labelled a ‘cost cutting exercise’ by the Australian Meat Industry Employers’ Union.
The supermarket said the change comes after discussions with its meat department workers in August about the change, which were confirmed this morning by the ABC.
“In June we let our meat team members know we were considering a proposal to align our meat operating models nationally in our stores, so that we can consistently deliver high quality retail-ready meat for our customers whenever they want to shop,” a Coles spokesperson said.
“Following a period of consultation with affected meat team members as well as their union representatives, a decision was made to proceed with the proposal in late August.”
The AMIEU acting federal secretary Matt Journeaux said the decision will affect about 1570 Coles team members, and was a devastating blow for the industry.
According to Journeaux, who spoke to the ABC, some employees that opted to be redeployed within the Coles ecosystem have been offered 16-20 hour weeks in different roles.
“There’s a lot of people that ticked the redeploy box just to see what was on offer, and most of those offers that have come out have been pretty substandard, so I think a lot more will be opting for redundancy,” he said.
“If [our] members want to take up jobs in abattoirs, we will help them wherever we can.”
Inside Retail has contacted Coles for comment.