MORE than 350 workers at Woolworths’ regional warehouse in Barnawartha will walk off the job tomorrow morning until an agreement is reached to improve their pay.
The strike is expected to see many supermarket goods remain at the distribution centre, although a Woolworths spokeswoman said the shelves of local supermarkets would remain well stocked in the immediate term.
Members of the National Union of Workers will lead the protest at the Barnawartha distribution centre from 5am.
NUW industrial officer Dario Mujkic said members of the community were encouraged to talk to the workers over coffee and food being served at the site.
Staff at the Woolworths Liquor Distribution Centre in Brisbane will also take protected industrial action with a 24-hour strike coinciding with the Barnawartha action.
Mr Mujkic said members were frustrated and anxious after negotiations once again broke down earlier this week.
He said workers at the regional warehouse earned $203 per week less than workers in Melbourne who did the same job.
While the latest wage offer for workers in Melbourne is a $1.04 per hour increase, Woolworths management was only offering an extra 74 cents per hour to workers at Barnawartha.
Mr Mujkic said the key issue was wage justice.
“We are not asking for wage parity, because it’s a huge gap, just wage justice,” he said.
“Woolworths made over $2.3 billion net profit this financial year, we are not talking about a small business here.”
Mr Mujkic said workers were also after improved rates for weekend work.
“Saturday is a huge work day for workers and they are away from their family,” Mr Mujkic said.
“The award penalty is 150 per cent, but they only receive 125 per cent.
“We are looking to improve this to 140 per cent as a transition over a couple of years.”
Woolworths spokeswoman Claire Kimball said the protected action at Barnawartha would “not significantly impact on our ability to supply our stores”.
“We will move supply to other distribution centres in outer Melbourne and Sydney and some suppliers will deliver direct to our stores,” Ms Kimball said.