Give us a fair deal: Warwick Big W workers in pay push
WARWICK workers claim to have had the short end of the stick for too long and now want more respect, increased wages and improved redundancy deals from retail giant Big W.
The workers - at the Warwick Big W distribution centre - say they are the second lowest paid company employees in the country, according to figures from the Fair Work Commision website.
The staff claim they have been named the safest and most accurate distribution centre in the company and feel left out with wages that do not reflect their commitment and hard work.
After seeking support from the National Union of Workers, the staff members have begun to bargain with their employer and will continue to negotiate their wages and conditions.
They say negotiations have been disappointing with Big W offering a wage increase of 1.2% last Thursday.
A formal ballot vote will take place on Friday at the warehouse site to decide if the union members wish to take industrial action.
Warehouse employee Sara Couper said she was struggling to keep up with the current cost of living.
"We're asking for a 6% pay increase to get ourselves back on track," she said.
"That monetary figure is nothing compared to their profit. "If other stores can get 3% or 4%, why can't we?"
Employees claim that a 17% increase would be needed to earn the same as their Brisbane colleagues.
NUW general branch president Dani Shanahan said the employees were previously concerned about the future of the store and in turn copped a low pay deal.
"All workers want is a fair deal," she said.
"But we're mounting a campaign from what matters to our members and for the respect they deserve."
Opposition leader Lawrence Springborg said all workers were entitled to fight for their rights.
"From my perspective, of course I support the right of those workers to air their grievances and to exercise any opportunity they have to make sure their grievances are addressed, Mr Springborg said.
A Woolworths spokesperson said Woolworths was aware of the ballot by a small number of workers in their Warwick Distribution Centre to allow them to take industrial action.
"Our Warwick Distribution Centre has more than 200 employees and around 35 members of the National Union of Workers will take part in the ballot," the company said.
"Woolworths is currently negotiating a new enterprise bargaining agreement with these workers.
"We'll continue to constructively negotiate the new agreement with our workers and their representatives ... "
- The average weekly wage for Warehouse Store personnel within the Woolworths group is $1037.51
- The average weekly wage for Big W Warwick distribution centre staff is $932.93.
- Woolworths Brisbane is paid $11,280.88 more each year than their Warwick colleagues.