A quick update on enterprise bargaining in supermarkets across Australia.
Following a 2-year period of uncertainty about bargaining, during which time a Coles / SDA deal failed the Better Off Overall Test (BOOT), we now have some certainty as to where we are going with both Coles and Woolworths.
It has now been agreed by the company, the SDA, and the AMIEU, that the appropriate way forward is to use the old expired 2012 enterprise agreement as a base point of negotiations rather than start all over again from scratch.
The 2012 agreement will need to have penalty rates improved vastly to pass the BOOT but the unions will fight to retain all other conditions of that agreement.
We will be meeting weekly over the February and March period to negotiate the terms of a new agreement based on the 2012 and hopefully will be able to have something for workers to vote on shortly thereafter.
A new Notice of Employee Representational Rights is being issued to signal the start of a new phase of bargaining, which you should shortly receive. Union members are represented by the union by default and need do nothing with this notice.
In contrast to Woolworths, Coles want to create a new agreement from scratch.
They are currently putting an agreement to the vote that was negotiated by the SDA but this does not cover meat unit workers.
For meat unit workers we will be negotiating a new national agreement to cover meat units across Australia. Your old state based agreements apply in the meantime.
This new national approach to meat will secure meat worker’s rights to have sole say in the skilled and trade work that goes on in meat units.
Negotiations in Coles are expected to commence soon, but it is most likely that this will be after the conclusion of the vote in the general store agreement that commences in mid-February.
This is two completely different approaches by the two supermarket chains but at the end of the negotiations, both must ensure that their agreements pass the BOOT and this means ensuring that penalty rates are front and centre in discussions.
More news as it happens.