CWH speaks out on strike

Striking Chemist Warehouse workers. Image courtesy NUW.
Striking Chemist Warehouse workers. Image courtesy NUW.

Chemist Warehouse’s Damien Gance has told mainstream media that he “expressly and unequivocally” denies union claims of violence against striking workers

Workers at Chemist Warehouse distribution centres in Victoria and Queensland continue to strike, and the National Union of Workers has alleged that “violent tactics” are being condoned by the discount giant’s management.

“We’ve seen cars and trucks drive deliberately into striking workers, with several workers injured and requiring hospital admission,” the NUW alleged in a Facebook post.

“There have been death threats made to workers, their cars have been jumped on and tyres slashed.”

It has also shared a meme which alleges that Chemist Warehouse “dumped manure” next to the protesting workers.

Fairfax reporter Ben Schneiders spoke to Mr Gance, who said that Chemist Warehouse had refrained from speaking to the media until this point because it believes negotiations with the union are better conducted in private.

The discounter denied any claims of violence or unlawful conduct aimed at the workers who are picketing the warehouses, he said.

He said that the company’s office staff, who are not striking, have been told instead not to perform actions which could worsen the situation.

“We have repeatedly implored all our staff to exercise humility, civility and humanity in any interaction with the picket, this in the face of aggressive, derogatory and offensive behaviour from others,” Mr Gance said.

“To my knowledge our people have met the standards we have set.”

He said that Chemist Warehouse has made a “good” offer to the workers which would see their remuneration increase to what he described as already “well above” award rates.

Fairfax also visited five Melbourne Chemist Warehouse pharmacies and found “all appeared to show considerable reductions in stock with numerous empty and thinning shelves,” Mr Schneiders wrote.

However Mr Gance said that supplies were not affected and that Chemist Warehouse “will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that this industrial action has little to no effect upon our stores and in turn our patients and customers”.

Since the strike began Adam Kerslake, director of Professionals Australia in Queensland, appeared on social media stating that PPA had gone to the picket line to support the striking distribution centre workers.

He said PPA “would like to see a good deal for all Chemist Warehouse workers”.

“We support the National Union of Workers’ campaign to get a good deal here in the warehouses.

“We’ll be out talking within the retail pharmacy within Chemist Warehouse in the near future to talk about maybe getting a good deal at the retail sector as well.”

The AJP has reached out to Chemist Warehouse for comment.

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