Industrial action hits Chemist Warehouse

Workers at Chemist Warehouse distribution centres in both Queensland and Victoria are on indefinite strike in an attempt to get more pay and better conditions.

The warehouses in Somerton and Preston in Victoria and Eagle Farm in Queensland are key to the supply chains of Chemist Warehouse and My Chemist outlets around the country. This means front-of-shop, own-brand, perfumes and OTC products will be delayed until a resolution is reached. PBS medicines won’t be affected as they are delivered by Sigma Healthcare.

Workers at the three distribution centres are asking for:

  • A 25 per cent pay rise.
  • Permanent positions.
  • An end to alleged bullying and sexual harassment in the workplace.

According to the National Union of Workers (NUW), workers in similar roles receive about 25 per cent more than workers at the distribution centres.

In addition, the NUW said about 70 per cent of warehouse workers in Victoria are ‘labour hire’ and only know if they’re required at work the next day when they receive an SMS message.

NUW National Secretary Tim Kennedy said the industrial action is “a David and Goliath struggle between the haves and the have-nots”.

He continued: “Workers’ wages are declining while wealth and power continues to grow at the top end of town.

“This is a matter of justice for these workers. Chemist Warehouse should agree to treat their workers with respect and pay wages and conditions that meet the industry standard.”

Australian Council of Trade Unions secretary Sally McManus advised the striking workers at CWH’s Preston distribution centre that labour hire was the worst form of casual work.

Ms McManus said it was unacceptable that Chemist Warehouse moved labour hires to other sites instead of taking action against the perpetrators of sexual and other harassment.

Women from the NUW staged a sit-in at some Chemist Warehouse and My Chemist stores on international Woman’s day. Chemist Warehouse declined to comment.