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Huzzah: Chemist Warehouse employees will get a pay rise of nearly 20% over 4 years

Chemist Warehouse employees went on strike for better pay and working conditions. <em>(Photo: National Union of Workers/Facebook)</em>
Chemist Warehouse employees went on strike for better pay and working conditions. (Photo: National Union of Workers/Facebook)

Chemist Warehouse workers have secured better pay, job security and a safer workplace in a major win off the back of two-week strike efforts.

Around 800 employees from three of the pharmacy group’s distribution centres in Victoria and Queensland went on strike over the last two weeks in protest of workforce casualisation, low pay and a culture of sexual harassment, workers claimed.

The strike has paid off: the National Union of Workers (NUW) has reached a new enterprise agreement with Chemist Warehouse after weeks of negotiations.

According to social media posts by NUW, all employees will see their pay increase by 18.75 per cent over the course of four years, with an 8.75 per cent raise to kick in within the next two weeks.

Forklift drivers and trainers will see an even bigger pay rise, with wages to lift 22.5 per cent across four years.

Furthermore, casual labour hire workers that went on strike will be hired permanently.

Staff will also now be paid for training conducted outside of work hours.

The agreement also includes a number of other conditions that will see working conditions improve and wages lift.

“We see this as a great outcome for the business and our team,” said Chemist Warehouse director Damien Gance.

“Our people are critical to our success, and we have been able to achieve a balance between rewarding our current team and being able to continue to grow and offer more job opportunities.”

A bit of background

Workers at the pharmacist group were agitating for a 25 to 30 per cent pay rise in order to be paid in line with Chemist Warehouse’s competitors, according to the AFR.

Additionally, workers were seeking greater job security, with the percentage of permanent workers at Chemist Warehouse’s distribution centres only at roughly 25 per cent.

Husain Al-Qatari, a lead delegate at the Preston site in Victoria, said the public was not aware that “a lot of women [at Chemist Warehouse] are sexually harassed”.

“They do not provide a safe working environment, free from sexual harassment and bullying,” he said, as reported in Red Flag.

Chemist Warehouse was founded by Melbourne pharmacist Jack Gance and his business associate Mario Verrochi.

Both men were featured in the AFR’s 2018 Rich List in 2018.

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