House debates

Wednesday, 9 December 2020

Statements by Members

Coles Group: Workplace Relations

1:54 pm

Photo of Mike FreelanderMike Freelander (Macarthur, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Last week I rose to inform the House about the plight of over 300 local employees and their families in my electorate of Macarthur who have been unfairly locked out of their workplace by the Coles Group. These hardworking employees are not on strike. They've been cruelly locked out of their workplace for three months over the Christmas and new year period. The decision of Coles to lock the workers out of the Smeaton Grange distribution centre means that well over 300 workers and their families will be going without pay over Christmas and the new year.

For me this is very personal. I know many of the workers. I've looked after their children, their grandchildren and for some of them I've looked after them when they were children. One employee, a single father, doesn't know how he is going to pay to care for his children over the Christmas and new year period. Another one has two children with autism and he can't afford to buy Christmas presents for them. I've heard from many employees who are unsure whether they can pay their mortgages or pay their rent.

The response from this government has been nothing short of pathetic. At a time when they're introducing some quite significant industrial relations legislation to the parliament, they don't care about these workers. They have a laissez-faire approach. They've refused to contact the company to get them back to the table to bargain. Unfortunately, unless something dramatic happens these workers will have no pay over the Christmas period to support their families and support themselves. This is a tragedy. It's indicative of the government's response to industrial relations and a huge shame, and this government is responsible.