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Aust. union plans solidarity action on Progressive

Media release for immediate use

UNITE, the fighting union for fast food and retail workers in Victoria, will be staging ongoing action in support of over 500 locked out supermarket workers in New Zealand. The workers are employed by Progressive Enterprises which is owned by Woolworths Australia.

The details for the next action are: 4-6pm Friday September 22 outside the Safeway / Big W entrance corner of Lonsdale and Swanston Streets in the Melbourne CBD.

UNITE supports the claim of over 500 Progressive employees in Auckland, Palmerston North and Christchurch Distribution Centres for a collective agreement and decent pay rises.

Woolworths Australia is the largest retailer in Australasia and recently announced a 24.3% increase in profits of $1.2 billion dollars (A$1.1 billion) and expects sales to increase by 8-12% next year. New Zealand distribution workers earn around 35% less than their Australian co-workers despite food prices being generally lower in Australia. The CEO of Woolworths Australia, Roger Corbett, takes home an outrageous $A8.5 million a year. This is 340 times more than a full time checkout operator.

Woolworths Australia also own brands in Australia including Safeway, Food For Less, Dick Smith Electronics and PowerHouse, Tandy, Woolworths Liquor, BWS, First Estate, Dan Murphy’s, Plus Petrol, BIG W, Woolworths Ezy Banking, Woolworths HomeShop and GreenGrocer.

Anthony Main, UNITE Secretary said "Woolworths have decided to take on these workers in an attempt to keep their pay at poverty levels. We have pledged to organise ongoing action in support of these workers. We will be letting Woolworths know that if they continue this aggressive behavior they can expect protests and more action on this side of the ditch as well"

"We are also saying to shoppers think carefully about where you shop. We are asking shoppers not to spend money at a company that treats its workers this way. At an action last Wednesday UNITE members handed out over 2000 leaflets to Woolworths customers and hundreds more signed a petition of support. This company can more than afford to pay its workers decent wages. This exercise is about union busting" Anthony said.


UNITE - The fighting union for fast food and retail workers in Victoria.


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