Coles sackings prompt strike
By David Mizon
MELBOURNE — Members of the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association at the Coles New World warehouse in Port Melbourne began their third week on strike on November 2. The strike started when a shop steward was sacked but escalated when 140 other union members were sacked for acting in solidarity.
The shop steward was sacked for alleged theft but the company produced flimsy evidence (the presence of more than two food items in his refrigerator — items that were available at considerable discount to employees of the company) and has refused to lay charges. The workers who took solidarity action were fired for breach of contract. This allowed the company to avoid its obligations under a redundancy agreement. Termination cheques for the 140 workers were sent out with suspicious speed.
The sacked workers have been supported by workers at other Coles New World warehouses, by the Transport Workers Union and the Waterside Workers Federation. Some $36 million worth of stock is slowly rotting in the warehouse and on the wharf.