Warehouse workers at Country Road Group’s distribution centre in Truganina have begun striking until their demands for better wages and respect in the workplace are met.
Despite the best efforts of Country Road managers to poo-poo legally protected industrial action, more than 50 workers from the site did not turn up to their rostered shift today and are instead rallying outside the gates.
Melbourne-based CRG received $25 million in JobKeeper subsidies from the Federal Government and is owned by South African retail group Woolworths Holding Limited, which reported more than $300million profit last financial year – an increase of 267 percent on the previous year. It distributes fashion favourites including Mimco, Trenery, Witchery, Politix, in addition to Country Road.
In the meantime, the company has responded to the union’s attempts to reach an equitable pay deal for its predominantly women workforce with dismissive and intimidating tactics.
Last week it was reported that CRG had laid fresh manure at a site where workers had planned to meet to discuss the ongoing bargaining campaign.
Workers at the Truganina warehouse are paid significantly less than their counterparts in logistics and distribution. They are pursuing a $1.00-per-hour pay rise which would bring their pay packet closer to in line with workers at the male-dominated warehouses in the area.
United Workers Union (UWU) logistics coordinator Mick Power said it was unfortunate that such a drastic action had to be taken during the peak demand for retail products.
“It’s regrettable that workers, who are only seeking a living wage, have been forced into a corner by Country Road,” Power said.
“This is a company which unironically brags about its commitment to upholding “high social, ethical, and environmental standards in the supply chain”, but is quite happy to fight tooth and nail to keep wages significantly lower than what the male-dominated warehouse workers enjoy.
“The reality for workers at Country Road, beyond the glossy magazines, celebrity-stacked fashion shows and beautifully curated boutiques is a hostile workplace coupled with poverty wages.
“Country Road executives really need to reflect on whether they are truly comfortable spruiking their ethical credentials while treating its mainly women warehouse workers like horse manure.”
The strike began at 12.01am today and will likely impact retail and online sales in the lead up to the busy Christmas period.
As part of the campaign, UWU is hosting CountryRogue.com.au, which has more information about the ongoing campaign.
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