NUW to vote on Toll offer to end warehouse strike

Industrial action against Coles and Toll might be over as soon as today if NUW members accept new workplace agreement

NUW to vote on Toll offer to end warehouse strike
NUW to vote on Toll offer to end strike
Ruza Zivkusic-Aftasi | July 12, 2012

The industrial action at Coles’ Somerton warehouse might be over as soon as today if Toll workers agree to an offer from the company.

Some 100 workers, who have picketed in Melbourne’s north since Tuesday over workplace conditions, are meeting with the National Union of Workers (NUW) today to decide on an offer from Toll.

Coles outsourced the running of its Somerton warehouse to Toll, whose workers want the same conditions as Coles employees at other warehouses.

The NUW declined to disclose the details of the proposal when contacted by ATN but Toll spokesman Christopher Whitefield says the union acknowledges that the current agreement is 30 percent above the relevant Award rate.

"As a result of our new offer, the gap will increase significantly over the next three-year period," Whitefield says.

"An outstanding issue has been the payment of shift allowance, which is an additional payment for employees whose working hours cross outside a standard working day."

Whitefield says the NUW wants a shift allowance for the entirety of the 2pm to 10pm shift. He says Toll’s proposal includes a "significant" allowance to compensate workers outside normal hours.

"We hope today’s vote will provide an outcome that will allow a return to work as quickly as possible," Whitefield says.

Workers at Coles Goulburn distribution centre in New South Wales went on strike yesterday in support of the Somerton employees. They were sent home when they stopped work and then ordered by Fair Work Australia to end the strike and return to work.

Somerton workers went on strike on Tuesday and established a picket line to prevent trucks from accessing the warehouse.

"They don’t get the same shift loading as other Coles workers get and they don’t get the same rights to rostered days off as Coles warehouse workers get which is hugely critical when you’re doing such a physical job day in and day out," NUW organiser Godfrey Moase says of Somerton staff.

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