Coles Smeaton Grange depot workers reach agreement with supermarket giant

Coles Smeaton Grange depot workers have been 'locked out' of the distribution centre until February 11, 2021. Picture: UWU
Coles Smeaton Grange depot workers have been 'locked out' of the distribution centre until February 11, 2021. Picture: UWU

The workers at Coles Smeaton Grange depot will be heading back to work next week after months of strike action.

Staff at the Coles distribution centre walked off the job last year in an effort to fight for better redundancy packages, job transfers and job security.

What started as a 24-hour strike soon became indefinite industrial action with Coles 'locking workers out' of the facility to ensure supplies could be delivered to its stores on time during last year's busy Christmas period.

The embattled workers outside the facility were a familiar sight for drivers who travelled through Smeaton Grange in recent weeks.

A United Workers Union spokesman said negotiations with company had ended this week.

"After protracted negotiations between workers and the company, Smeaton Grange workers, on Monday, March 1, voted 71 per cent in favour of an offer from Coles that included improved redundancies, many new permanent jobs, new career transition provisions, $1000 bonuses and more," he said.

"We are extremely proud of our members for taking on one of the largest employers in the country and for inspiring workers across Australia to keep fighting."

Coles Smeaton Grange workers have stationed themselves outside the gates of the depot to send their message to the supermarket giant. Picture: Kayla Osborne

Coles Smeaton Grange workers have stationed themselves outside the gates of the depot to send their message to the supermarket giant. Picture: Kayla Osborne

Last year Coles endorsed the supermarket giant's 3.5 per cent pay rise offer after initally asking for 5.5 per cent.

The Coles depot has been flagged for closure in 2023 as the company plans to move to automated distribution centres.

A Coles spokesman said team members at the Smeaton Grange distribution centre voted to formally approve the new enterprise agreement that will deliver the 3.5 per cent annual increase in base wage rates.

"The agreement was negotiated with the assistance of the United Workers' Union and also includes a $1000 bonus payment for each worker, increased involuntary redundancy provisions of up to 80 weeks' pay and provisions for team members to take a voluntary redundancy at any time," he said.

"Team members have this week been engaged in safety refresher training and the distribution centre has begun receiving orders from our suppliers.

"Smeaton Grange will begin replenishing our NSW stores starting next week."

Related content: