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Woolies promise no staff losses

Saturday, 8th June, 2019

By Craig Brealey

A shop employees’ union says it would be “surprised and disappointed” if anyone lost their job at the local Woolworths supermarket.

The company is changing the way it runs its supermarkets around the nation but the way it was going about it was causing confusion, according to Josh Peake, the secretary of the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association in South Australia and the Northern Territory which represents the Woolies workers. 

Staff were informed of the changes on Wednesday and reported their concerns to the local union branch.

Woolworths said yesterday some jobs would be made redundant and employees would be offered new roles but that there would be no “net reduction” of staff.

“The SDA is very concerned about the distress this restructure is causing to team members at Woolworths and we intend to ensure we have commitment from the company for ongoing employment for all workers in the impacted positions,” Mr Peake said.

“I would be surprised and disappointed if the restructure resulted in job losses in Broken Hill.”

Mr Peake said the SDA would also insist that any workers moved into new roles were employed under the same, or better, conditions than they now enjoyed and that this was a legal requirement. 

A spokesman for Woolworths said that it wasn’t bad news.

“While some roles are being made redundant, we’re also adding in new ones. 

“We’re working closely with team members on redeployment opportunities. The changes will not result in a net reduction of team members in our stores.”

The spokesman said the changes would be introduced in coming months and were the first undertaken at store level since 2011.

They would result in the creation of two new departments - Fresh Service and Fresh Convenience. 

“Fresh Service will manage customer service at the deli, butchery and seafood counters. Fresh Convenience will manage dairy, eggs, pre-pack meat, branded bread and meal solutions.”

The changes would mean some department managers’ jobs would be “consolidated” to help invest more resources into new customer-facing supervisory roles. 

Claire Peters, the Managing Director of Woolworths Supermarkets, said the company appreciated that the new model had created “uncertainty and stress” for workers. 

“We’re committed to working closely with impacted team members to identify potential redeployment opportunities in our business over the coming months,” Ms Peters said.  

“We’ve heard from our customers that they want to see more team members available on the shop floor to serve and support them. 

“Under the new operating model, we’re creating more customer-facing leadership roles to help us deliver better service to our customers across more hours of the day and to meet their changing shopping needs. 

“The changes will not lead to a net reduction in the number of team members we employ in our stores. 

“However, we do understand the new opportunities in the revised structure may not appeal to everyone, and will make sure those team members are fully supported in their transition. 

“We know these are difficult decisions - we haven’t taken them lightly and are committed to doing the right thing for our team and customers.” 

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