WHEN: 5 am Friday 24 July – 5 am Saturday 25 July
WHERE: 11 Warren Rd, Warnervale NSW 2259
WHAT: 500 Woolworths workers stop work for 24 hours
WHO: United Workers Union spokesperson Brad Donnelly will be available on-site for comment between 5 am and 3 pm.
This morning, up to five hundred Woolworths distribution workers were forced to take legal industrial action and stop work for 24 hours after the supermarket giant refused to negotiate fairly regarding workers’ pay and conditions.
Workers at the Wyong distribution centre on the Central Coast of New South Wales are demanding pay parity with workers who do the exact same job, for the same company, less than two hours away in Sydney. Workers on some job levels are paid up to 16% less.
Workers are also calling for an end to Woolworths’ unsafe pick rates and insecure work which leaves many worrying if they will be able to support their family week to week. Woolworths has been using the unsafe pick rates to discipline workers and as a basis to refuse permanent jobs.
Woolworths’ warehouse staff have worked throughout the COVID-19 crisis, helping the company achieve record growth, but management continues to refuse their demands after almost five months of negotiations.
Recognising that it is a difficult time, workers will return to work at 5 am on Saturday, but they have not ruled out further stoppages until they win pay parity with the big city distribution centres.
The strike comes off the back of a devastating announcement amid the pandemic that Woolworths would slash 1,350 jobs across Victoria and New South Wales leaving many Woolworths workers feeling angry and betrayed.
Quotes attributable to United Workers Union Logistics Director Matt Toner:
“There is no reasonable justification for workers in a big city like Sydney to be paid so much more than regional workers doing exactly the same job.”
“These workers have helped deliver record growth for Woolworths during one of the most difficult periods in recent history and their demands are very reasonable.”
“We know that a lot of people are out of jobs right now, but it’s no time for any workers to be on their knees. This is about more than just these workers; this is about their whole community. Now more than ever, coastal, and regional communities will have to rely on there being good, secure jobs.”
Woolworths Wyong warehouse staff have moved more products during the pandemic than the last three consecutive record-breaking Christmas periods, helping the company achieve record growth.
Quotes attributable to a Woolworths Wyong Distribution Centre worker:
“We aren’t worthless just because we live and work in Warnervale. We do the same work and we should be paid the same amount.”
“This is about securing a future for our families and our community. Some casuals here have been waiting six years for a permanent job. Meanwhile, Woolies brings in people off the street and gives them a permanent role. That’s hard to watch.”
“I’ve been working here for more than 10 years. I’m sick of being one of the lowest-paid Woolworths warehouse workers in Australia.”
United Workers Union members are calling for:
Wage increases that place Wyong workers on a level playing field with Sydney Distribution Centres.
The ratio of 80% permanent to 20% casual staff and conversion to permanent to be based on length of service.
Woolworths to stop using unsafe pick rates.
Improved classification structure – currently two people can be on two different grades and pay rates but do the same work every day.
Woolworths Wyong workers have been negotiating since March 2020. Pick rates are the number of items a worker is expected to move every hour.
The average difference (depending on the classification level) is between 8% and 16% per hour. This is based on the average of the three Woolworths Sydney Distribution Centres compared with the wages at Wyong Distribution Centre.
Woolworths supermarkets have seen their revenue grow by 8.6 % as of mid-June 2020 and up 10.7 % in the previous quarter.
Note: Workers will be closely observing physical distancing measures and using PPE to ensure they do not increase the risk of spreading the virus. Workers will be complying with NSW public health orders and not gathering in groups larger than 20. Everyone attending this event will be expected to adhere to current social distancing guidelines.
Media contact: 1300 898 633, [email protected]