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Union takes Woolworths to Fair Work over 'non-genuine' redundancies

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Woolworths has come under fire. Images: AAP
Woolworths has come under fire. Images: AAP

The retail workers’ union has announced it is taking Woolworths to the Fair Work Commission over the supermarket giant’s planned restructure.

Woolworths announced the $10 million restructuring strategy last week, citing a need to refocus the stores towards fresh food and convenience options.

The supermarket company told workers that no jobs were expected to be lost, with staff instead redeployed to the new fresh service and fresh convenience departments.

However, documents obtained by 7 News indicate that workers who are not successfully redeployed may face redundancies.

“We want to keep as many of our team members as possible, so we will support you to find a new role within Woolworths Group – this is called redeployment," page eight of the transition guide reads.

“If your role is made redundant, it is not a reflection on you or your performance. A role or job is made redundant, not the person performing it.”

The SDA Union, which represents workers in the retail, fast food and warehousing industries, said it has concerns over what it warns could be “not genuine” redundancies.

“The SDA has serious concerns that the Company failed to properly consult workers and the union and that many of the planned redundancies are not genuine,” the union announced on Facebook.

“We will keep you updated with more information as it comes to hand. Remember to talk to your SDA Delegate, Organiser or contact us if you have any concerns so we can provide specific advice and support.”

The union said it opposes the restructuring and will fight to protect workers’ jobs, pay and conditions.

However, it also acknowledged that Woolworths has made clear that current staff will be preferred for new roles.

“The SDA encourages all members to apply for a new role. Our priority is to secure ongoing employment for SDA members.”

Woolworths responds:

A Woolworths spokesperson told Yahoo Finance the company has been “proactive” in consulting with the union on structural changes.

“Our immediate focus is identifying as many redeployment opportunities as possible for impacted team members across our business,” the spokesperson said.

“Under the new model, we’re creating more customer facing leadership roles to help deliver better service to our customers and to meet their changing shopping needs.

“Importantly, the changes will not lead to a net reduction in the overall number of team members we employ in our stores.”

Continuing, the spokesperson said supermarket staff were briefed on the new operating model last week and has been consulting with workers and their representatives on what will be the first store-level changes since 2011.

“Woolworths has deployed a dedicated team across its store network to help team members understand the changes and their redeployment options.”

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