Truckies pick up the slack as Woolies fends off strike

Truck drivers called in to help Woolworths, which has been hit with a strike over wage conditions

Truckies pick up the slack as Woolies fends off strike
Truckies pick up the slack as Woolies fends off strike
By Ruza Zivkusic | November 3, 2010

Truck drivers are stepping up to help deliver Woolworths’ goods as hundreds of the supermarket giant’s workers go on strike.

Almost 600 workers at the Broadmeadows warehouse walked out on Friday, protesting over the company’s latest wage offer of a three percent increase.

The National Union of Workers (NUW) organiser Belinda Jacobi says the workers are "devastated and angry" with the company’s "unfair" offer, asking workers to give up entitlements such as penalty rates, shift loadings and breaks.

The offer will cut pay for some workers by up to $324 each week, Jacobi claims.

As the workers negotiate with the company, ATN understands up to 40 truck drivers from Adelaide have been asked to help deliver goods.

NUW organiser Caterina Cinanni says "a lot of drivers have been put under pressure by the company to work longer and drive distances they wouldn’t normally do as a result of the dispute".

"The company is using other facilities in other states to bring work into Victoria because at the moment this dispute means they can’t get stock from a lot of other supermarkets," Cinanni says.

Woolworths spokeswoman Claire Buchanan says contingency arrangements have been set up and will not affect the logistics department, with facilities from Adelaide, Wodonga and Sydney being used.

"We are having deliveries made to other distribution centres to make sure there is no impact on customers," Buchanan says.

"We’re very disappointed that the workers opted to walk away from discussions and ignore the recommendations of Fair Work Australia to return to work. The most important thing is that we get product on the shelves of our stores so we’ll make every arrangement we need to make sure that happens."

A spokesman for the Victorian branch of the Transport Workers Union, John Halloran, says TWU members will not cross the picket lane.

The average age of Woolworths’ Broadmeadows workers is 40 years.

"The company is also trying to force workers to work later hours to the detriment of their families," Jacobi says.

"This is a fight for respect, fairness and job security.

"Woolworths posted a record $2 billion profit this year and the company’s CEO received a $500,000 wage increase, yet the workers are forced to go backwards," she adds.

Correction: The original story incorrectly said TWU members would cross the picket lane. John Halloran said members would not cross the picket lane.

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