Dec 2017

Woolies low pay scandal - a race to the bottom

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19 December 2017: BOB Katter Federal Member for Kennedy and KAP Leader has expressed his disbelief and disappointment after receiving the news that a massive wages deal has been struck between Woolworths and conservative union SDA (Shop, Distributive & Allied Employees), labelling the move as ‘scandalous’, a case of “I told you so” and a ploy to hide “secret” low wages.
As reported in the Sun Herald on Sunday, the union has struck an extraordinary deal with Woolworths to hide the pay rates of supermarket workers. Woolworths aims to employ 400 workers across four “dark stores” - a term used to describe a retail outlet or distribution centre that focuses only on online shopping.
Mr Katter warned that as Woolworths continues to open more of these so-called “dark stores” in a bid to compete with e-commerce giant Amazon, it will be the employees that feel the sting of injustice with a wage package as much as $3000 a year less than workers in regular Woolworths stores.
Mr Katter is calling it a “race to the bottom”, which if unopposed, Woolworths will likely win.
“A race to pay the lowest wages,” Mr Katter said.
“While the Federal Governments contest, they’ve allowed Uber in, and cheered them on – meanwhile wage structures in the taxi industry have been destroyed.
“Almost all the Government allowed them to break the laws of Australia, not only did they not stand by laws for their fellow Australians they’d enforced for nearly 100 years, but they changed the laws at the request of the foreign corporation.
“They’ve done it in transportation, now they’re doing it with the selling of goods (Amazon), I have an image in my mind of them grovelling on the floor and polishing their shoes, so long as they are a big foreign corporation.
“More than half the workforce I would argue has lost wages and conditions over the last 10 years through casualisation, contracting work out, and the unbelievable continual commitment to the foreign corporation,” he said.
Mr Katter said government needed to empower people against the corporate might by legislating proposed laws the KAP has put to Parliament under the Reducing Supermarket Dominance Bill 2013 that make it illegal to hold more than 20 per cent market share.
“But don’t expect any mainstream MPs from the corporate-controlled major parties to be interested in concentration of market power where small businesses are being wiped out and the consumer pays five times as much,” said Mr Katter.
“The government must be forced to intervene, or when they’ve wiped out all the competition, they’ll be able to charge us whatever they want – for food, petrol, hardware, liquor… the list goes on and on.”
He pointed out that under KAP’s Reducing Supermarket Dominance Bill 2013 stores would not close but rather “simply be owned by someone else – which is great for competition, communities and shareholders”.

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