Two weeks on, Coles warehouse workers accept deal

The blockade at the Coles warehouse in Melbourne has ended after two weeks, after staff accepted a new pay deal.

The protesters were fighting for better pay conditions and had not allowed any trucks in or out of the facility since the strike began, impacting supply to Coles stores.

The National Union of Workers (NUW) members accepted a 12 per cent pay rise over three years from the Toll Group, which manages the warehouse on behalf of Coles, yesterday.

Despite a court ruling that they stop the blockade, the workers vowed to continue last week and into this week, until yesterday when they decided the agreement was finally “much better” than what they had previously been offered.

But Tolls said the agreed upon deal is for the same amount as what they first offered, just distributed differently.

"The total value of Toll's offer has not changed over the past two weeks,” Toll corporate affairs manager Andrew Ethell said.

“It remains an effective 4 per cent annual wage rise over three years.

"Arriving at this final negotiated agreement has resulted in shuffling the structure of how wages and conditions will be allocated, effectively reducing some conditions in order to be able to increase others.

"It is a shame the illegal blockade that's been in place for the past two weeks has delayed a resolution being reached earlier."

NUW secretary Tim Kennedy said the workers voted to accept the deal because it dealt with the central issues the workers have been fighting for, including the ability to earn rostered days off (RDO’s), public holiday agreements and shift penalties.

In lieu of a shift penalty for workers rostered on between 2pm and 10pm, the workers have agreed on a family allowance payment  to be added to the deal.

"The union is very happy the workers, after a long two-week struggle, have been able to secure an agreement," he said. 

The union’s argument was centred on discrepancies in workplace agreements between the Sommerton warehouse and other Coles warehouses.

"There is no doubt, in order to make certain we won these conditions of equal treatment, there had to be some give and take," Kennedy said.

 

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