An agreement has been reached between Toll Global Logistics – Customised Solutions and the National Union of Workers (NUW) regarding the Coles Somerton distribution centre after more than two months of enterprise bargaining.

Illegal blockading since Tuesday 10 July effectively shut down the site and prevented employees from working.

Toll says the total value of its offer has not changed and remains an effective four per cent annual wage rise over three years. Arriving at the final negotiated agreement has resulted in shuffling the structure of how wages and conditions will be allocated, effectively reducing some conditions in order to be able to increase others.

Toll expects the blockade to be removed by Tuesday and limited operations to resume by Wednesday. Work volumes are expected to increase gradually and it could take several weeks before the site returns to normal operations.

Toll says its offer provides a very competitive combination of wages and conditions, with the current agreement being around 30 per cent above the award rate and as a result of the new offer, this gap will increase significantly over the next three years.

A family allowance payment has been included instead of a full shift allowance and traded off against the previously offered wage increase. Other key aspects of the offer include an accrued day off (ADO) system for full-time permanent workers, and the ability to take a day in lieu for public holidays worked.

NUW Victorian secretary Tim Kennedy told AAP a new agreement was brokered over the weekend and finalised on Monday.

Mr Kennedy said the agreement dealt with the five issues at the centre of the dispute, including shift penalties, public holidays, rostered days off and casual workers.

“The union is very happy the workers, after a long two-week struggle, have been able to secure an agreement,” he said.
Mr Kennedy said the deal delivered a 3.5 per cent wage increase in the first year, 3.25 per cent in year two and 3.5 per cent in the third year.

In the meantime, Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) veterans and members will take action outside Coles stores acrossAustraliaon Wednesday morning to draw attention to the pressures being put on truck drivers by the giant retailer. The retired drivers will hand out information to shoppers and the wider public, highlighting conditions in the trucking industry, and how Coles uses its economic power to squeeze its suppliers, and drive down conditions and safety standards.

A recent survey conducted by the TWU found that 78% of truck drivers would not recommend truck driving as a career option to their children. According to retired truck driver Peter Cooley: “The transport industry’s the backbone of the economy. Coles is making it so hard on drivers that too many drivers now say they wouldn’t recommend it to their kids. We’re taking this action to turn that around.”

The TWU says the transport veterans will highlight how the practices of Coles are driving safety down, squeezing the life out of truckies, leading to approximately 330 deaths on Australian roads each year.

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