Woolies unfair to workers
Sausages sizzled as protesters turned up the heat on Woolworths' city store in Sydney last Thursday. As unionists prepared the BBQ in front of Woolworths' main entrance, protesters worked up an appetite by marching throughout the store with placards and megaphones, shouting "Woolies unfair to workers" and "Don't shop at Woolies". The protest attracted a lot of attention from the early-evening crowds of shoppers. In every isle of the store, customers were reading leaflets about how 30 workers had been unfairly sacked and replaced by casual labour. Outside the store the picket had grown in size and protesters were now linking arms, forming a barrier around the store's entrances. Thirty workers were sacked on May 14 by a company that does shopfitting and joinery work for Woolworths Supermarkets. The company, Metro Shopfitting, sacked the 30 workers, saying there was "no longer work available for them". The next day they were replaced by casual workers employed by a body hire agency on lower rates of pay. Security guards were put on the front door of the factory to stop the sacked workers from gaining entry to their workplace. The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) has made representation to Woolworths and, on behalf of the sacked workers, has requested Woolworths ensure that they only do business with companies that treat their workers fairly. Woolworths management told the media that the dispute had nothing to do with Woolworths. This claim is becoming more common and is one of the points the protest was drawing attention to: through the use of contractors, sub-contractors and body-hire companies, employers are claiming they are not responsible for what happens to workers. The CFMEU said Woolworths have an obligation not only to their direct employees and customers but also the employees of companies they engage to do business with. Customers should support the campaign for a fair go for workers and not support Woolies until this problem is fixed.