28 March 2019

After an illegal attempt to bypass the union was this week blocked by the Fair Work Commission, Chemist Warehouse capitulated to the demands of its striking workers. In addition to significant wage rises, outsourced workers will be paid agreement rates, casual employees will have the right to be made permanent after six months — and those casuals who participated in the strike will be given permanent jobs immediately. Professor Anthony Forsyth, who conducted the Victorian Government’s inquiry into the labour hire industry, summarises the significance of the Chemist Warehouse victory: “the NUW has made huge inroads into a major company’s extensive use of labour hire. In many sectors of the economy, including warehousing, logistics and manufacturing, the original intention of labour hire — to provide a supplement to the core workforce in response to business needs — has been usurped by the engagement of large numbers of long-term, labour hire casuals. The Chemist Warehouse agreement is an important clawing back of that misuse of labour hire. The NUW has shown … that the more traditional industrial tools (strikes, protests) are still effective — especially when combined with organising and communication through social media.” Strikes work!