The more than two weeks industrial action at Coles warehouse in Somerton, Melbourne finally ended on Monday night. The workers agreed to terminate their strike, lift the barricade and accept the wage increase offer from Toll Holdings, the operator of the largest warehouse of Coles in Australia.
Wesfarmers said the Coles division continued to deliver strong earnings growth, up 21.2 per cent for the year, considerably ahead of sales growth.
Toll, instead of appealing a Fair Work Australia decision to delay a vote by all of the Somerton employees on its salary increase offer, agreed to a new deal which was put before National Union of Workers on the same day.
The agreement meets the workers' demand to hike their wages to match the pay received by their counterparts in other Coles warehouses. The warehousemen would receive a 3.5 per cent salary increase in the first year, a 3.25 per cent hike the second year and another 3.5 per cent pay boost on the third year.
It also dealt with four other issues raised by the Somerton workers. With their differences settled, the 600 employees are expected to return to their jobs on Tuesday.
Part of the deal is a family allowance payment to be given to workers rostered in the 2 to 10 p.m. shift. It was set at $30 a week on the first year, $60 on the second year and $74 on the third year. Other demands of the workers that Toll agreed were higher shift payment penalties, nine registered days off and a day off for working during a public holiday.
The workers voted to accept the deal, which led to the end of the labour row. Toll insisted the agreement had the same amount it first offered the employees but had a different distribution scheme.
"Workers have demonstrated that they can fight back and win conditions that have been taken from them. It proves that workers, through organisation and joining unions, can fight for jobs that they can count on - jobs that have some fairness about them," NUW State Secretary Tim Kennedy was quoted by The Age.
.Toll said the blockade caused $32 million worth of Coles stock to be trapped inside the plant. Some of them would no longer be placed on the supermarket giant's shelves because it is close to expiry dates.
The NUW also said it spent millions of dollar in the legal battle, which included a Victoria Supreme Court decision that order the lifting of the blockade, but the union went around by sending to the blockade members not covered by the court order.
To contact the editor, e-mail:
Most Popular Slideshows
- Australia Bids Adieu to Adam Spencer's Mornings on ABC's "702 Breakfast" Show [PHOTOS]
- Top 10 Hottest Celebrities with Shocking Weight Loss (And Find Out Their Secrets!) [PHOTOS]
- Mars Curiosity Rover Photos: UFO Hunter Spots Strange 'Ruins,' 'Missile' [PHOTOS, VIDEO]
- Miranda Kerr Exposes Breasts to Crew, Wardrobe Malfunction 'Deliberate Accident?' [PHOTOS]