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A huge change is coming to Woolworths – and how it could set the trend in Australia


More than 130,000 Woolworths staff will be entitled to work for four days following a landmark deal between the grocery giant and trade unions.

The Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association supported a proposal that would allow employees to work their 38-hour week in four 9.5-hour shifts.

The changes will be added to Woolworths’ new corporate contract if it passes a staff vote in the coming weeks.

As weekends are the supermarket’s busiest days, staff will be required to work up to four weekend shifts per month.

Woolworths workers will vote to add the option of a four-day working week to their new enterprise agreement

The proposal will affect 130,000 Woolworths staff who will be offered to work their 38-hour week in four 9.5-hour shifts.

The proposal will affect 130,000 Woolworths staff, who will be offered to work their 38-hour week in four 9.5-hour shifts.

«It could be one weekend shift per week, ie Saturday or Sunday, or it could be two weekends on Saturday and Sunday and two weekends off,» SDA NSW secretary Bernie Smith told The Australian.

Last May, Bunnings agreed to trial a four-day working week for full-time staff – a change other organizations and smaller businesses are also experimenting with.

The news follows the Fair Work Commission’s approval of a new enterprise agreement at Coles – which will affect 92,000 staff despite objections from the Retail and Fast Food Workers Union.

Enterprise agreements at Woolworths and Coles oblige the supermarket to give its staff pay rises each year in line with those set out in the annual Fair Work pay review.

This approach has already resulted in a 23.1 percent increase in wages since 2018.

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Inflation rose by 19 percent over the same period.

The commission agreed with the RAFFWU that a provision in Coles’ new enterprise agreement that would allow it to unilaterally change the hours and days of work of part-time staff could be harmful.

But it acknowledged that the deal would also give part-time workers a qualified right to ask for extended hours – which can only be refused on reasonable business grounds.

Fair Work found that the agreement passed the overall better test.

«The agreement provides employees with more favorable terms of employment than those set forth in the award, including slightly higher wages,» it said.

The news follows Coles' victory over unions after the Fair Work Commission approved its new enterprise agreement

The news follows Coles’ victory over unions after the Fair Work Commission approved its new enterprise agreement

The Fair Work Commission has also been busy challenging claims by employers under the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry that wages rising faster than inflation «will discourage enterprise bargaining».

«Does ACCI have evidence to show that keeping modern pay growth below average wage growth provides an incentive for enterprise bargaining?» asked the committee.

The commission also disputed ACCI’s claim that the panel of experts had consistently awarded increases in minimum and modern wages that outstripped inflation and the wage price index.

Daily Mail Australia has contacted Woolworths for comment.

The four-day working week is a global push to change long-established working hours, with success already seen in other countries such as Sweden, Spain and Belgium.

Organizations such as Oxfam and Unilever have already trialled a shortened working week in Australia, while audit firm Findex and accountancy firm Grant Thornton have introduced a nine-day fortnight.

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