“While there is no requirement to increase pay at this stage, all team members covered by the Coles Supermarkets Enterprise Agreement 2017 will be receiving this wage increase from Monday 5 October 2020.”
In June, the Fair Work Commission announced an increase to the minimum wage but decided to delay the pay rise for retail workers from July until February 2021.
Coles’ decision has been welcomed by the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association (SDA) which described it as a “great reward” for supermarket staff.
“It is great to see that Coles has done the right thing by paying a wage rise now. It is well deserved recognition of the effort of their staff,” said Gerard Dwyer, national secretary of the SDA.
The SDA has now turned its attention to Aldi, which is yet to offer workers a pay rise or pandemic bonus.
Aldi workers in Sydney and Southern parts of NSW are currently voting on an Enterprise Bargaining Agreement to secure a package of working conditions and pay rates.
The SDA said it has been negotiating on behalf of workers at Aldi to get better wages and conditions package but that Aldi has refused to include a guaranteed pay rise in this Agreement.
The union is encouraging workers to vote no to the agreement in the hope that Aldi will come back to the bargaining table with a pay rise.
“Aldi workers have kept the shelves stocked and the registers open so that Australians can put food on the table during this unprecedented period. They have worked tirelessly on the frontlines, despite risks to their health and safety and unacceptable abuse from customers,” SDA’s NSW/ACT secretary Bernie Smith said in a statement.
“Aldi enjoyed record sales and profits, but is refusing to give their supermarket staff, warehouse workers and truck drivers the pay rise they deserve.”
An Aldi spokesperson said in a statement to Inside Retail that the supermarket offers a “market leading” wage and conducts a salary review process on an annual basis.
“Our enterprise agreements that are being voted on in our Prestons region should not be confused with the pandemic or Aldi’s annual salary review process,” the spokesperson said.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has had a major impact on our business and employees. We’re
extremely proud of how our employees have managed so much change, including new
safety protocols and a shift in consumer shopping behaviours. We will continue to provide our employees with market leading remuneration, we will continue to provide training and development opportunities and we will not stop investing in health and safety measures to keep them safe at work.”
Voting on the Agreement is open and will conclude on September 22. A majority “yes” vote is needed for the agreement to pass.
A separate Agreement for Northern NSW is yet to be put to vote.
The SDA has been campaigning for pay rises across the supermarket industry of late. Last month, Woolworths agreed to pay an increase backdated to July 1, 2020 calling it “the right way” to resolve its legal dispute with the SDA.
Unlike Coles and Woolworths, Aldi has not yet offered a “pandemic bonus” or “thank you” payment to staff.
In June, Woolworths announced that each eligible full-time team member within the group would be awarded up to $750 of Woolworths Group shares to keep or sell in the future. Part-time eligible team members were also allocated shares on a pro-rata basis. More than 100,000 team members across the Woolworths, Countdown, Big W, Dan Murphy’s, BWS, CellarMasters and Langton’s businesses were eligible for shares, the retailer said.
Rival supermarket Coles also paid staff up to $750 earlier this year as a “thank you” for their work during the pandemic.
Jason Pallant, a marketing lecturer with expertise in retail and consumer services at Swinburne Business School, told Inside Retail that the pandemic has highlighted the importance of shop floor staff, particularly in supermarkets.
“It’s good to see some retailers identifying the key role these staff are playing and rewarding them accordingly, but there is still more that can be done. Retailers who invest in their staff now, even with lockdowns or changed trading conditions, have an opportunity to set themselves up for the future in building good will with staff and their communities, as well as holding on to key skills and corporate knowledge,” he said.