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Issue #1742      August 3, 2016

Distribution workers take action

Since the recent announcement from Woolworths that they want to close the Victorian Hume Distribution Centre, members at the site have been busy discussing the affects on workers and the community in the northern suburbs.

With too many questions to the company still unanswered, National Union of Workers (NUW) members are starting a community campaign demanding secure jobs in Melbourne’s north.

Community organisations, members of parliament, family and friends will join workers at the Broadmeadows Town Hall on Wednesday August 3 to launch their campaign and test Woolworths proposal to relocate jobs out of the norther suburbs.

NUW is devastated at the proposal from Woolworths to close its Hume Distribution Centre. The union, which represents approximately 550 workers at the worksite, began holding meetings with workers in June.

“Not only is this a real blow for workers currently working at the distribution centre, it’s a blow for the northern suburbs generally, with hundreds of decent, secure jobs leaving the region,” said Victorian branch secretary Gary Maas.

“The loss of these jobs has a community-wide effect. Children will watch on as their parents try to work out what happens next – how they’ll pay for the cost of housing, food, and bills. Decent job opportunities will no longer be there for young people entering the workforce. Some families may even have to look at upheaving their lives to find work elsewhere.

“At a time when the north has lost thousands of jobs in manufacturing already, the union is anxious to work with the committed members of the NUW and the local community towards alternative ideas for secure employment for the region.” Maas said.

“The union will be led by its members and fight hard with them for a fair outcome. Many workers have already told us they want Woolworths to explain why this is happening.

“The union also looks forward to working with government to address the jobs crisis in the northern suburbs of Melbourne that will only deepen with the loss of hundreds of jobs in 2018.” Maas said.

Meanwhile, NUW members at Polar Fresh, Coles’ cold storage warehouse, have voted up their new workplace agreement after striking for three days.

They won: an average of 4.75 percent wage increase per year. This will see them get to $31 by Jan 1, 2019.

Members also won 120 new secure jobs – 50 permanent full time and 70 labour hire agency workers converted to direct employment – with ongoing conversion rights for labour hire casual workers.

Working conditions such as paid breaks, RDOs and double time for overtime after two hours were also won. This was achieved by solidarity, union members sticking together and amazing support from fellow NUW members across Australia and other unionists in many industries.

Next article – Rush to whitewash

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