Coles penalty pay dispute

Thousands of low-paid workers will be worse off after Coles' slashes penalty rates.
Thousands of low-paid workers will be worse off after Coles’ slashes penalty rates.


Supermarket giant Coles proposed a new workplace agreement which will leave tens of thousands of supermarket employees out of pocket.

Earlier this year Coles subcontracted 77,000 casual employees to the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association (SDA) in order to ‘standardise working conditions’.

The agreement negotiated between Coles, the SDA and other unions, mandates a higher hourly base rate but cuts penalty rates for weekends and night workers.

20-year-old Laetitia Nicholoson worked for the retailer for 18 months before the bargaining agreement was introduced.

Despite allegations that employees take home pay will be greater under the new agreement, Miss Nicholoson said she will be disadvantaged.

“Losing my penalty rates will cost me almost $5,000 a year and I can’t afford to take that hit while working the same hours,” Nicholoson said.

MP for Capalaba Don Brown is working to ensure minimum and award wages remain the same at Capalaba Central in South East Brisbane.

“It’s good to put the facts out there about how much these workers have gone back in wages,” Brown said.

“You see in opinion poll after opinion poll; 81% of people support weekend penalty rates.

“I feel like its deeply felt issue in the community.”

The Fair Work Commission has since approved a new workplace relations framework to regulate café, entertainment and retail workers penalty rates as demand for weekend services grow.

The final report is to be submitted to the Government by the end of November 2015.

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