Chemist Warehouse reaches agreement with union, ending strike

Chemist Warehouse has agreed to pay its workers higher wages and provide them with greater employment security and flexibility after negotiations with the National Union of Workers were completed on Wednesday night.

The agreement followed about two weeks of strikes at three key Chemist Warehouse distribution centres, as workers represented by the NUW sought a 25 to 30 per cent pay rise and more permanent positions, according to a report by The Age earlier this month.

The agreement between the NUW and Chemist Warehouse will see distribution centre workers in Victoria and Queensland get an immediate 8.75 per cent pay rise through new enterprise agreements. This will increase to 18.75 over the next four years, and to 22.5 per cent for forklift drivers and trainers.

All casual labour hire members who were on strike, approximately 50 workers, will get permanent jobs, the new agreements include a job security clause to ensure labour hire workers become permanent after six months. Labour hire workers will get a 6 per cent pay rise upfront, increasing to 16 per cent, and then site rates if legislated by government, as the Labor party has promised to do.

“We see this as a great outcome for the business and our team, Damien Gance, the director of Chemist Warehouse, said in a statement.

“Our people are critical to our success, and we have been able to achieve a balance between rewarding our current team and being able to continue to grow and offer more job opportunities.”

The NUW’s national secretary, Tim Kennedy said that it is “great to see workers in their union collectively bargain for wage increases, secure jobs and respect at work,” at a time of serious wage stagnation.

The strikes reportedly left shelves in several Chemist Warehouse stores empty. The pharmacy has been contacted for comment about the impact of the strikes on sales, and how it plans to offset the cost of higher wages, but it had not replied at the time of this writing.

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