Breadlines and Barricades: The Battle of Coles and Woolies Unveils Worker UnrestBreadlines,Barricades,Battle,Coles,Woolies,WorkerUnrest
Breadlines and Barricades: The Battle of Coles and Woolies Unveils Worker Unrest

Breadlines and Barricades: The Battle of Coles and Woolies Unveils Worker Unrest

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Australia Coles and Woolies workers are striking this weekend. Will customers be affected?

A Historic Supermarket Strike

Workers at Coles and Woolworths, two of Australia’s largest supermarket chains, are set to go on strike this weekend. With grievances of low pay and unsafe working conditions, this will be the first national supermarket strike in Australian history.

According to the Retail and Fast Food Workers’ Union (RAFFWU), around a thousand workers are expected to participate in the strike. They will walk off the job on Saturday for a two-hour period starting at 10am. While it is unclear which stores will be affected, the impact on customers is expected to be minimal.

The Workers’ Demands

The workers on strike are demanding several improvements in their working conditions. RAFFWU secretary Josh Cullinan stated that the workers are protesting “poverty” wages, unsafe workplaces, and job insecurity. They believe that they are treated with contempt by the industry and demand a base rate of $29 per hour for all Woolworths and Coles workers.

Additionally, the workers want safer workplaces where assaults, threats, and attacks are treated as crime scenes. They are calling for the abolition of junior rates and trainee rates and are advocating for the right to a minimum shift length, minimum part-time contracts, and conversion rights for casual workers at Woolworths.

Minimal Disruption for Customers

Both Coles and Woolworths have reassured customers that they will notice little difference during the strike. The majority of their workers are represented by the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association (SDA), which will not be participating in the strike. RAFFWU members account for fewer than 500 of Woolworths’ 132,000 supermarket employees and less than 0.4% of Coles‘ workers.

Possible Future Strikes

While the impact of this weekend’s strike is expected to be minimal, RAFFWU secretary Josh Cullinan has stated that workers are learning about their power and will be prepared to take more significant industrial action during the busy Christmas period if necessary. This indicates that there may be more strikes in the future if the workers’ demands are not met.

Employers’ Response

Coles and Woolworths have responded to the strikes by stating that they are working collaboratively to find a new enterprise agreement. Both supermarkets have a history of bargaining in good faith, with Coles maintaining a commitment to balance the needs of their team members, the sustainability of their business, and providing value and experiences for their customers.

Woolworths acknowledges and respects the right of their team members to take protected industrial action. The negotiations between the supermarkets and the SDA, which represents the majority of their workers, are still in the early stages. The focus is on securing better wages, fairer and more predictable rostering, and five weeks of annual leave.


The Coles and Woolies workers’ strike highlights the discontent among supermarket employees regarding their wages, working conditions, and job security. While the impact on customers this weekend is expected to be minimal, the possibility of future strikes looms if their demands are not addressed.

As the supermarket battle continues, the focus should shift to finding a balance that ensures fair treatment for workers while maintaining the sustainability of the businesses. This requires open dialogue and genuine efforts to address the concerns of the workers and create a healthy and respectful work environment for all involved.


Breadlines and Barricades: The Battle of Coles and Woolies Unveils Worker Unrest
<< photo by Jei Noa >>
The image is for illustrative purposes only and does not depict the actual situation.

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Hannah McKenzie

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