Coles will end its in-store butcher service on Sunday, redeploying or making redundant dozens of butchers and meat workers nationally.
Hundreds of Coles meat team workers will be redeployed as in-store butchers close
The supermarket chain will only offer pre-packaged meat from Monday
The meatworkers union says the decision is ‘devastating’ for butchers
In June, the supermarket giant confirmed it was in talks with its meat department workers over a proposal to only offer pre-packaged meat in store.
A Coles spokesperson told ABC Radio Brisbane on Wednesday the decision to end in-store butcher services was made in late August, after those discussions.
“In June we let our meat team members know we were considering a proposal to align our meat operating models nationally in our stores, so that we can consistently deliver high quality retail-ready meat for our customers whenever they want to shop,” the spokesperson said.
The spokesperson said Coles was working with the affected employees to “assess” retraining them for other roles.
About 1 per cent of Coles’ 120,000-strong workforce are employed in the meat department.
Australasian Meat Industry Employees’ Union acting federal secretary Matt Journeaux said the decision was a devastating one for dozens of supermarket butchers and meat workers.
Mr Journeaux said some employees had only been offered 16–20 hours work in different retail roles, while others were weighing up whether to accept a redundancy and seek work in a different industry.
The union said the move would affect about 1570 team members.
“There’s a lot of people that ticked the redeploy box just to see what was on offer, and most of those offers that have come out have been pretty substandard, so I think a lot more will be opting for redundancy,” he said.
Mr Journeaux said the union was particularly concerned about older butchers who had been with Coles for decades and were now weighing up whether they could afford to take a pay cut or take a redundancy.
“If those members want to take up jobs in abattoirs, we will help them wherever we can,” he said.
“Unfortunately a lot of abattoirs are in regional Australia and a lot of these people live in the city.
The final day for in-store butchers is Sunday, October 11.