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More than 240 Woolworths warehouse workers at a Laverton Distribution Centre have taken legal cease work action this morning after a reported positive COVID-19 case on Friday night. The busy site provides alcohol to Dan Murphy’s and BWS stores across the state.

Workers met this morning to discuss if Woolworths had done enough following the case to ensure their safety, concluding the mega-corporation was not doing enough to uphold their duty to keep their employees safe.

On Saturday, United Workers Union gave Woolworths a list of demands from workers on the actions they would need to take to make them safe.

The list included a 72 hour deep clean in line with industry standards, to be observed by DHHS and health and safety representatives, all workers to be tested for COVID-19 during the shutdown for cleaning and all new agency, contractors and employees commencing work at the site to be tested.

Woolworths has so far refused many of the workers requests. The response is in line with many companies taking a cavalier approach to the virus, often resulting in it spreading quickly to dozens, if not hundreds, of workers.

United Workers Union is calling on Woolworths to take its role in combating the virus seriously and commit to following the best practice safety advice. The cease work comes off the back of Melbourne going into stage 4 lockdown, in no small part caused by companies refusing to put the community and their workforce ahead of making profit.

Quotes attributable to United Workers Union Logistics Industries Director Matt Toner:

“Workers will keep taking action like this until these big companies like Woolworths put their safety, and the safety of the community, ahead of profit.

“We have seen this a dozen times already. Each time the company tries to downplay the virus and keep operating there’s 50 or 60 COVID cases. The best plan Woolies can make is to go hard now and send all workers home with pay so they can be tested and do a proper deep clean.

“People in Victoria are facing some of the harshest restrictions yet. Woolworths needs to respect the sacrifice we are all making and treat this outbreak with the seriousness it deserves.

“On top of closing specific industries today, the government needs to support workers to temporarily close facilities where there are COVID outbreaks to stop the spread through the community.”

Additional details

United Workers Union full list of demands provided to Woolworths on August 1, 2020:

  1. 72 hour deep cleaning with DHS and HSRs present.
  2. All workers to be tested for COVID-19 while the site is shut down for a deep clean.
  3. Any new agency, contractors, and employees coming through to the distribution centre to be tested and cleared by a medical practitioner before commencing work.
  4. Epidemiologist is engaged to provide advice around the management of this disease.
  5. Provide information (in appropriate languages) and instruction, training or supervision to enable persons to perform their work in a way that is safe and without risks.

Woolworths Laverton Distribution Centre is located at 1 Interchange Dr, Laverton North VIC 3026.

United Workers Union understands stock was transferred from the temporarily closed down Mulgrave site that had recorded over 17 positive cases into the Laverton Distribution Centre and workers were asked to continue working on that stock.



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