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Clashes at The Warehouse over the career retailer wage

  • News
  • August 13, 2015
  • Elly Strang
Clashes at The Warehouse over the career retailer wage

The Warehouse has been bargaining with First Union for the past six weeks.

 A Warehouse Group spokesperson says an agreement had been reached on all 24 claims under negotiation, except for one.

First Union organizer Dennis Maga says The Warehouse Group senior management talk about decent pay and good condition, yet workers who were promised a living wage are being kept at a low amount.

“Despite constantly touting the career retailer wage as market leading, this is not the case,” Maga says.

“Workers in unionised supermarkets enjoy higher starting rates than workers at the Warehouse. This gap between rhetoric and reality is causing worker unrest.”

He says workers must log 5000 hours or five years service before they’re entitled to the career retailer wage.

This is ineffective, he says, as part-time and casual workers outnumber full time workers.

The Warehouse Group spokesperson says that only a small number of The Warehouse team are affected by this, as the majority of staff are covered by the career retailer wage programme.

Warehouse Group chief executive Mark Powell said earlier this year that 63 percent of staff were earning $18 an hour or above.

The spokesperson says over half The Warehouse staff are on or above the career retailer wage and more qualify every month.

“In terms of further context for you, approximately one in 20 of The Warehouse’s workforce are affected by the hourly pay rates in the scope of this negotiation,” she says.

“This is a very small proportion of the total Red Sheds team (about 8,500 people).”

The Warehouse Group created the career retailer wage programme in 2013 to ensure retail could be seen as a viable career path for its workers.

This has increased staffs’ pay rates from $15.50-$17.85 an hour to $18.31-$20.03 an hour, the spokesperson says, which is a rise of around 17 percent.

“This is industry leading and at the time the union applauded us for the initiative,” she says.

The spokesperson says the one claim being disputed is the second year offer for August 2016, which is a difference of $0.08 an hour per person between the company’s respective positions.

The bargaining continues.

Meanwhile, First Union says more stores across the country will also strike in the coming weeks.

​ ​

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