Coles commended for ‘cleaning up act’ over trolley collectors

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The Fair Work Ombudsman has released a report on the progress of Coles’ legal commitment to improve wage compliance and supply-chain accountability for its trolley-collection services.

The second annual report into Coles’ enforceable undertaking (EU) with the Fair Work Ombudsman shows further improvement in the working conditions of the supermarket chain’s trolley collectors as it continues to move the service ‘in-house’.

Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James commended Coles for continuing to act on its ethical and moral responsibility to ensure its trolley collectors were being paid fairly and appropriately throughout its network.

“Coles deserves credit for cleaning up its act and continuing to work collaboratively with my agency to turn around a culture of non-compliance in its trolley collection supply chain,” Ms James said.

“During the second year of our EU with Coles, the number of supermarkets with in-house trolley collection services has increased to almost 85 per cent of all Coles sites.”

In October 2014 the Fair Work Ombudsman announced that Coles had, by entering into an EU, acknowledged its ethical and moral responsibility to ensure entities and individuals involved in its trolley-collection supply chain were providing equal, fair and safe work opportunities by complying with workplace laws.

In accordance with the terms of the EU, Coles has submitted its second annual report on progress made against each of the undertakings.

The report says that in the second year of the EU the number of identified underpayments of trolley collectors decreased to five, compared with six the previous year; the value of underpayments decreased to $17,170, from $40,441 the previous year; and the number of calls to a dedicated hotline for Coles trolley collectors decreased by 50 per cent, from 21 to 11.

Coles also continued to provide workplace-relations training to procurement and operational-management teams, with 94 teams receiving training since the EU took effect.

Ms James said the results showed that while there was still work to be done, Coles had made significant advances in addressing non-compliance within its supply chain.

“In both signing up to transparent and robust partnerships with the FWO, Coles and its trolley-collection provider have made real inroads into building a culture of compliance in this sector,” she said. “They have shown the impact that business can have when it takes moral and ethical responsibility for compliance with workplace laws in supply chains and networks.”

The EU with Coles will continue until December 31, 2018, or until all trolley-collection services at Coles supermarkets have been brought in-house.

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