It’s over: CWH strike ends


Striking Chemist Warehouse workers
Chemist Warehouse distribution workers were on strike for 16 days. Image courtesy National Union of Workers via Facebook.

Workers at Chemist Warehouse distribution centres have voted to go back to work and accept a new offer from the discount giant

After protracted negotiations which were completed on Wednesday night, the National Union of Workers and Chemist Warehouse reached an understanding on new enterprise agreements for the pharmacy chain’s distribution centre workers across Victoria and Queensland.

On Thursday morning the workers – who had been on indefinite strike for 16 days – voted unanimously to return to work and accept the offer.

In a joint statement the NUW and Chemist Warehouse said that the offer will see strong wage increases, greater security of employment, flexibility of working hours that will meet the needs of both workers and the employer, and a commitment from all to continue to have a respectful and productive workplace.

Chemist Warehouse director Damien Gance said that Chemist Warehouse sees the agreement as “a great outcome for the business and our team”.

“Our people are critical to our success, and we have been able to achieve a balance between rewarding our current team and being able to continue to grow and offer more job opportunities.”

Tim Kennedy, NUW National Secretary, said that “at a time of serious wage stagnation, it’s great to see workers in their union collectively bargain for wage increases, secure jobs and respect at work”.

The Australian Council of Trade Unions welcomed the decision and congratulated union members.

The agreement includes:

  • All workers to get an 18.75% wage increase over four years, 8.75% of that will come within two weeks. Through classification changes, forklift drivers and trainers to get approximately 22.5% wage increase over four years;
  • All casual labour hire members who have been on strike will get permanent jobs;
  • A job security clause which ensures labour hire workers become permanent after 6 months;
  • Labour hire to get 16% increase (6% upfront);
  • Recognition of, and training in, gendered violence;
  • Members on four-day week can move to five-day week;
  • Agreement wages to apply if outsourced;
  • Agreement to apply if relocated;
  • Severance pay on redundancy improved compared to NES;
  • Renegotiation clause;
  • Improvements to OHS including hot and cold policies, PPE provided; and
  • Employer can roster people on weekend (at weekend penalties) but only by employee consent and with ability to revert.

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