Socialist Alliance supports the members of the National Union of Workers at the Coles warehouse in Somerton, who have been on strike strike since July 10. They are demanding the same pay and conditions as workers at other Coles warehouses.
Although the Somerton warehouse is owned by Coles and supplies Coles stores, management has been outsourced to Toll Logistics. This has been used as a pretext for giving the Somerton workers lesser pay and conditions than other Coles warehouse workers.
Coles workers' are struggling for rostered days off for day shift workers and voluntary work on public holidays, for shift loadings to be paid for an entire shift and not a couple of hours, for the automatic right for all casuals to get a permanent job after 6 months work, for the right to union representation on the job, and for fair wage increases.
Both Coles and Toll make big profits. Toll made $294 million last year, while Coles' owner Wesfarmers made $1.2 billion in the last 6 months of last year. They can afford to pay what the Somerton workers want.
When workers at the Coles warehouse in Goulburn refused to do extra work to make up for the Somerton strike, they were stood down down and threatened with legal action under secondary boycott laws. These laws, along with limits on industrial action, have been retained by the ALP in the Fair Work Act despite criticism by the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
If Coles warehouse workers around the country were able to strike strike in solidarity with the workers at Somerton, the dispute could be resolved quickly.
Many other Australian workers are affected by the use of outsourcing to cut pay and conditions. If the Somerton workers win, this will strengthen the hand of all workers facing such attacks.
On July 16, Coles escalated the dispute by seeking a court injunction to prevent rank-and-file Union members from picketing on site. This is an attempt by Coles to try and break the unity of workers instead of resolving this dispute.
How you can support the picket:
How to make a donation:
Account Name: NUW Vic Coles Somerton Relief Fund
BSB Number 063 074
Account Number 10014540