COLES Proposed National Agreement Update

Dear Member,

Most members will have seen notices put out by Coles in stores around the country stating their intent to have a national enterprise agreement that includes coverage of meat unit workers that are already covered by AMIEU enterprise agreements.  (All states except for Queensland)

We want to make it clear to all members that this reprehensible and underhanded ploy to eliminate the meat union agreements around the country will not happen without a fight!

Our National Executive is urgently looking at all possible avenues to try and protect the AMIEU members’ conditions of employment and will keep all members informed of developments as quickly as possible.

Of interest, the Transport Workers’ Union have also been caught up in the same net.

At this time we want to make clear the following facts:

  • The AMIEU was first notified about this attempt to eliminate the meat unit workers ability to negotiate their conditions on Monday the 7th April at 9.00 am.  We had no prior warning about this.  The notices from Coles management to stores were distributed on the same morning.  No discussion about this move took place whatsoever prior to the 7th April.
  • Coverage of an enterprise agreement has nothing whatsoever to do with union membership.  If anyone tells you that you must resign from the AMIEU because of the proposed agreement they are lying to you.  Members are advised to disregard this type of dishonest rubbish.  Anyone spreading this type of nonsense is either completely ignorant of the law or they are just dishonest.
  • The AMIEU has made no arrangement with any party to support this proposed agreement.
  • We have now only a week before negotiations commence in order to prepare a log of claims for AMIEU members.

Some interesting points 

  1. Negotiations are to be conducted at the offices of the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association in Melbourne commencing on 22nd April 2014.  We were advised of this on the 7th April at the same time we were informed about the Coles plan.
  2. The proposed agreement would mean that everyone in Coles stores around Australia would end up working under the same agreement.
  3. AMIEU members around Australia have been able to maintain penalty rates and fair rostering arrangements within the meat units that are different from the rostering and penalty arrangements for the remainder of the store workers.
  4. AMIEU members have had the capacity to access their rights to take protected industrial action during the bargaining processes in the past which have had the effect of altering outcomes to those negotiations.  These rights will be sorely limited if the proposed agreement is made.
  5. The reference by Coles in their letter to team members about greater flexibility is something that AMIEU members should be extremely wary of.  The greater ‘flexibility’ that has always been sought by Coles management in negotiations in the past has referred to the ‘flexibility’ to work more weekends, early mornings and / or late nights and the ‘flexibility’ to reduce or eliminate the existing penalty rates for those times.  It has also referred to the ‘flexibility’ to have meat unit workers engaged in different parts of the store without being stopped by the enterprise agreement and / or the AMIEU.  Oddly enough these instances of greater ‘flexibility’ rarely seem to favour the workers.

What can members do now?

At this point in time your Union officials are looking closely at both legal and tactical avenues open to us as quickly as possible.  In the meantime members do not need to do anything until we are      in a position to advise you as to the best course of action to fight this outrage.

Of course, this does not prevent members from making your store management aware of any dissatisfaction you may have about Coles’ total disregard for their employees.

And why do we say things like outrage and disregard for employees?

Because the simple fact is that if Coles had any regard for its team members they would not need to resort to using ambush or legal tactics in order to attempt the ultimate elimination of direct bargaining between Coles and the AMIEU members for meat unit conditions.

Make no mistake members.  This is about Coles profits.  It is not about your welfare as team members in their stores.

When it comes to an agreement that reduces your current terms just remember Coles’ policy when it goes to the vote:


Graham Smith

Federal Secretary