Voting on the proposed Woolworths’ (ASX: WOW) Agreement which took place through an online ballot from 11 – 22 October 2018 finally got closed and the group received voting in favor of the new enterprise agreement on Monday night. Voting on the enterprise agreement went through an intense campaigning by the SDA (Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association), which backed the deal, and the rival Retail and Fast Food Workers Union, which clearly mentioned that the EA does not address years of underpayments under the 2012 agreement.
With the support of the SDA, the Australian Workers Union and Australian Meat Industry Employees Union, Woolworths’ negotiated an agreement that provides improved conditions. Nearly 68,000 Woolworths workers across Australia took active participation in the ballot process resulting in a 93% ‘yes’ vote in favor of the new agreement. The new agreement includes a range of above award conditions and entitlements. The proposed agreement has key takeaways:
- Take home-pay protection
- Estimation of new weekly pay
- Security of pay and conditions over the next few years
- Access to paid domestic violence leave
- Ensuring pay rises for everyone
- Improved rostering arrangements which includes removal of the 20% hours reduction provision for part timers
- Clause mentioning conversion of casuals to part timers
- Award rate of pay for every hour of every day
- Voluntary work on public holidays and 15-minute tea breaks
- Depending on hours worked and length of service one-off payment of up to $1100 in cash and gift cards
- Casual loading to increase from 20% to 25%
- Reduced base rates to the award level
- Weekend and evening rates increase to the award minimum
- Existing old workers who were receiving the higher base rate as negotiated under Woolworths' 2012 agreement will have their pay preserved and new workers will be paid as per the new deal.
However, the agreement might face objections from RAFFWU at the Fair Work Commission, which means there could be delay of several months before the deal gets formal approval. The RAFFWU is currently in process to terminate Woolworths' old 2012 Enterprise agreement on grounds that payment to some workers was below the award hoping of securing an estimated $1 billion of backpay. The estimated amount of time to get the final approval would be somewhere around 5 months to 6 months without taking into account any subsequent appeal of the decision by the losing party.
The company spokesperson mentioned while addressing a call that they will now work through the Fair Work Commission approval process and the company will definitely look forward to delivering the benefits associated with the new Agreement to their team members as quickly as possible. Protection of take home pay, improved penalty rates, and secure pay conditions will ensure that all workers receive pay rises, and the new agreement has everything that is in favor of workers and delivers on all fronts. The final approval to the agreement from RAFFWU at the fair work commission can be a process of few months but an overall win- win situation for workers on all fronts has been noted.
Despite this, WOW stock edged lower to $ 27.930 on October 23, 2018 (2:35 PM AEST).
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