Employees from the two major supermarkets in Australia, Coles and Woolworths, are set to strike this weekend, seeking improved pay and work conditions. This action is being recognised as Australia’s first-ever nationwide supermarket strike.
The planned two-hour strike will occur on Saturday at 10 a.m. in regions including Victoria, NSW, Queensland, Western Australia, the ACT, and SA.
Members of the Retail and Fast Food Workers Union (RAFFWU) are spearheading the strike, estimating around 1000 members to participate.
RAFFWU posted on their Facebook page, “Almost 100 Coles members have unanimously agreed to enforce bans this Saturday fully and are gearing up for a major strike during the Christmas season at Coles.”
Coles’ treatment of its workers, as described by the union, involves paying them inadequate wages and showing little concern for their well-being, especially in cases of in-store abuse and threats.
While Woolworths employees are also participating, RAFFWU seems to be primarily targeting Coles after reports that the company might not pay or may lay off any employee who strikes.
RAFFWU’s federal secretary, Josh Cullinan, stated to Nine News that the employees are earning just slightly more than the basic minimum wage. He emphasised their struggle with the escalating cost of living, highlighting that they can’t even afford the very products they sell. He further stressed the need for stricter measures against workplace abuse.
Responding to the situation, a Coles representative mentioned that they are actively working on a new Supermarket Enterprise Agreement, aiming for an outcome beneficial to their staff, the longevity of their business, and their clientele.
A Woolworths representative stated their consistent engagement with RAFFWU and emphasised their history of negotiating in good faith. They also recognised and respected their team’s right to strike.
Approximately 450 Coles employees and 300 Woolworths employees nationally are affiliated with RAFFWU.