All Coles’ butchers and meat packers roles will be made redundant as of 11 October 2021, in a move unions have warned will have consequences for shoppers.
More than 1,570 workers will be affected across Australia, the Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union (AMIEU) said in a statement on Friday.
The butchers and meat workers will be offered redundancies or alternative work.
Meat will now be prepared at a third-party facility and customers will be served by a store service representative.
“This is a move that might save money and put more profit in shareholders’ pockets, but do very little for consistency of product, quality and customer service that Coles promotes in its advertising,” AMIEU acting federal secretary Matt Journeaux said.
He said that as butchering is a trade and in-store staff have completed an apprenticeship, knowledge will disappear with the roles, and customers will pay the price.
“Butchers and meat packers inform customers on the best cut of meat for a particular recipe and how to cook and prepare and handle the meat.”
Journeaux said the store service representative may not have an understanding of meat, where butchers and meat packers could help customers decide how to handle and cook the meat required for their recipes.
“This is a shameful move that shows Coles cares more about profits than people. The only thing going down at Coles will be the service,” he said.
Coles said the decision was made to "meet the changing needs of customers" and to align all meat operating models across Australia.
"The change will mean our fresh meat range will be supplied to stores as retail-ready products and will not require any preparation to be carried out in-store before being placed on the shelves of our meat fridges for customers to buy," a spokesperson told Yahoo Finance.
"We are working with affected team members to assess potential redeployment and retraining opportunities within Coles."
The spokesperson said Coles has invested in "state-of-the-art facilities" and will work with suppliers to produce the meat.
Supermarket sales increased 1 per cent in the last financial year.