Australia’s largest retail workers union is taking Woolworths to the Fair Work Commission over recent changes to the way it operates supermarkets.
The Financial Review reports Woolworths is creating two new departments, fresh service and fresh convenience. Fresh service will manage customer service at delicatessen, butchery and seafood counters, and fresh convenience will manage dairy, eggs, pre-pack meat, branded bread and meal solutions.
Woolworths said last week the changes, the first to its store operating model since 2011, were not aimed at cutting jobs or costs but delivering a better customer experience.
However, staff at more than 1000 supermarkets have been told their roles have been made redundant and they must reapply for new roles, seek redeployment elsewhere in the group or take redundancy, which was not the retailer’s preference.
Woolworths also said the changes would open up opportunities for staff to develop their skills in new areas and progress their careers.
However, staff who previously managed departments have been told they will be replaced by a single manager and should reapply for non-managerial roles, which could lead to pay cuts, according to the union.
The Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association said on Tuesday it was taking Woolworths to the Fair Work Commission over the restructure.
“The SDA has serious concerns that the company failed to properly consult workers and the union and that many of the planned redundancies are not genuine,” the SDA said.
“The proposed changes are in no way connected to the new Woolworths Agreement [a new enterprise agreement signed last year] and is not something the SDA had any input into,” it said.
The union told members affected by the changes they had a right to be consulted on changes to their employment and should not feel pressured or rushed to make any decisions.