In partnership with the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO), Coles has transformed its contracted trolley collection service across Australia to eradicate underpayment of trolley contractors at its workplaces. The FWO has helped Coles implement fundamental permanent change to its trolley collection arrangements.
In late 2011, the FWO raised concerns with Coles about unfair practices involving third party employees who had contracted its trolley collection service.
The FWO’s concerns motivated Coles to make changes to its trolley collection service and move away from a traditional contracting model for trolley collection.
Coles previously had more than 30 contractors but improved its operations in late 2012 by contracting to one national trolley collection provider, administered under a single external payroll. Coles also established a hotline for external complaints to be escalated to senior management. Bank guarantee arrangements are in place with the sole contractor to secure against any risk of underpayments. With the assistance of the FWO, the sole contractor has entered into a deed of proactive compliance, which provides transparency of payments to third party employees.
Coles direct employees now collect trolleys at more than 400 of its stores and Coles aims to have employees collecting trolleys at all stores by the end of 2016. This year, Coles has also established an internal division, Coles Services, with approximately 700 employees and will move to more than 3000 by the end of 2016.
In 2012, the FWO issued proceedings against three contractors of Coles for breach of the Fair Work Act 2009 for failing to pay workers the required amount under the relevant award. Coles was also joined as a party with the FWO alleging accessorial liability. Early this year, the subcontract employers in the Proceedings admitted the contraventions alleged by the FWO.
Coles has agreed to enter an enforceable undertaking with the FWO as part of its continued partnership to ensure that all trolley collection services are brought in-house by the end of 2016. Coles wants to ensure the affected workers in the proceedings are not out-of-pocket for their wages. As a good corporate citizen, Coles will make an ex-gratia payment to these workers. The FWO has agreed to discontinue the Proceedings against Coles.
Coles believes the FWO plays a vital role in the community by ensuring fair practices for employees and preserving the integrity of workplace relations in this country. Coles also supports the FWO in its regulatory charter and believe positive relationships with our employees are paramount to our business.
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