Industry News

Butcher no more in supermarkets

Members may be aware it was the intention of Coles and Woolworths to move further away from in-store butchery and to increase the production of centrally processed ‘Retail Ready’ meats.

Queensland workers have begun to feel the impact of these changes with smaller stores in both supermarkets beginning to convert to full ‘Retail Ready’ offerings.  Larger stores are also reducing in-store production significantly. There are some differences in the mix of items being converted between the two retailers, essentially though, both are slicing a very limited range of products in stores, mainly consisting of the beef steak lines.

Having the face of a ‘butcher’ seems to be the only reason for maintaining any in-store production. This appears designed to create a perception with customers of a display case full of fresh cut meats in a store. When in reality 95% of the items are processed off-site.

The reduction in in-store production obviously means fewer workers are required to service a department.  Alarmingly, Coles appears to be trying to short change its butchers in stores converting to Retail Ready, asking Tradesmen to accept a lower classification level in the EBA.  Then offering to pay only half the EBA wage increase until the wage rate of the lower classification has “caught up”.  They do this stating that the position of a tradesman is no longer required in the meat Retail Ready operation.  Amounting essentially to a partial ‘wage freeze’.

Any member with concerns relating to the above should contact the AMIEU for advice.