As of several months ago, the 2016 National Retail Agreement was ruled not to have passed the Better Off Overall Test by Fair Work Australia. Therefore, it was retracted by Coles.
This means that we have now reverted back to our own 2012 state-based Agreement for the time being.
If workers were removed from your meat department while we were under the National Retail Agreement and have not been returned to the meat department, please contact me or the Union office as soon as possible as this is wrong. Changes made under the National Retail Agreement are to be changed back because, with the retraction of the National Retail Agreement, it is as if all meat team members were always covered by the 2012 state-based Agreement.
Some store managers have refused to move meat team members back to the meat department, saying that they are no longer meat team members and that they are now store team members. This change to their classification has to be changed back as if it had never been changed at all.
The 49% / 51% clause has been being used as a stand-alone clause. This is not correct as it is to be used with Appendix A as it has always been. Appendix A deals with Ready Retail and savings provisions.
Store Managers, Regional Managers and Human Relations Managers are telling meat team members that only meat union members are allowed to work in the department over 49%/51% and that they have already been fined $30 000 because the Union took them to Fairwork Australia. This is a load of rubbish.
Firstly, anybody is allowed to work in the Meat Department as it is illegal and has been for several decades, to have a “closed shop”. This means that Union Members and Non-Union Members CAN NOT BE TREATED ANY DIFFERENTLY.
Secondly, the Union has not taken Coles to Fair Work Australia over the 49%/51% clause and therefore Coles has not been fined for breaching the Meat Agreement in NSW. This is a load of rubbish. I have advised Coles that this is incorrect, that anybody is allowed to work in the meat department.
Sure, we would like all meat department team members to also be Union Members but that is up to me to endeavour to sign meat team members up. It does not mean that only Meat Union Members can work in the meat department. This nonsense about compliance with the Meat Agreement that Coles is spruiking is just that, nonsense. It is designed to get workers annoyed with the Meat Union.
If you or anyone in your meat department are off sick or on holidays, you can be replaced by anyone working in the store, Meat Union Member or not, meat team member or not, Salary or not. Anyone can be replaced by anyone. Store Managers are saying that salary team members are the only ones who can help out in the meat department, this too is incorrect.
It has been great as I visit the Woolworths stores, talking to butchers and meat packers and signing them up to the Meat Union.
I have had nothing but a warm welcome everywhere I have gone. I am looking forward to getting around to all the supermarkets again, signing up new members and meeting up with old friends I worked with when I worked at Woolworths.
If you or any of your meat department co-workers have issues, or would like to join the Meat Union, please do not hesitate to call me.
United We Stand, Divided We Beg
Christopher T. Clark
mob: 0417 070 396