Retail union promises to fight dud Woolworths deal

June 25, 2024
Woolworths EBA
About 38% voted 'No' to the latest enterprise bargaining agreement at Woolworths. Image: Isaac Nellist

Woolworths workers voted to accept a new enterprise bargaining agreement on June 19, which was supported by the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association (SDA).

The agreement, to last four years, covers 120,000 workers at Woolworths supermarkets, metros and packing centres.

About 100,000 workers (76%) voted, making it one of the largest votes in history.

The deal proposes a base rate of $26.07 an hour, just 41¢ above the minimum award rate. It also cut conditions.

While 62% voted “Yes”, 38% voted “No”.

The Retail and Fast Food Workers’ Union (RAFFWU) campaigned for a “No” vote and called for living wages and better conditions. It said this was “the largest ever ‘No’ vote on a proposed agreement in Australian history”.

Josh Cullinan, RAFFWU secretary, described the No vote as a “seismic rejection of the deal by over 35,000 informed and concerned workers”.

It is a significant rise on the previous vote, in 2018, when 6.5% of workers voted “No”.

"Woolworths refused to explain the pay cuts that would be inflicted on some workers,” Cullinan said. “Many workers were misled about the terms, or who could vote.”

He said Woolworths had “torn up” information about the deal and offered some workers gift cards to encourage them to vote Yes.

“We have workers who claim they couldn’t vote because someone had voted for them without their knowledge,” Cullinan said.

The agreement now goes to the Fair Work Commission for approval before it comes into effect on July 1.

RAFFWU said it will contest the proposed enterprise agreement “on the basis it leaves workers worse off than the minimum Award, workers were misled about the agreement and there are serious discrepancies with the vote process”.

“We just want a fair deal with living wages, safer workplaces and secure jobs,” Cullinan said. “This sell-out deal is none of that.”

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