The actions of a Coles store manager, who asked staff to work for four hours on a Sunday evening for free, have been disavowed by the supermarket giant.
A notice asking all 65 employees to “give me 4hrs free labour” was posted in a West Australian Coles last week, however employees quickly contacted the Shop, Distributive and Allied union (SDA), and the notice began doing the rounds on social media.
The manager who posted the notice said the voluntary work would go from 5:30pm until 9:30pm, with a promise of “plentiful” pizza at the finish time.
Coles washed its hands of the notice, which was quickly withdrawn, and said the person who posted it was a “trainee manager”.
In a statement to the press, a spokesperson for Coles said the notice was not in keeping with company policy, and that staff would be paid for hours worked.
“Coles values the hard work of all our team members and the notice posted in the store is completely out of step with Coles’ way of working,” she said.
“The notice, which was posted by a trainee manager, was quickly removed and we have let team members know that they will be paid as normal.”
SDA state secretary Peter O’Keeffe said it was unacceptable for a Coles manager to ask staff to work for free.
“Obviously this manager has decided for reasons of his own to request people to come and work unpaid,” he said.
“As soon as he put that notice on the notice board SDA members started ringing us and we immediately got in contact with the manager and told him this was unacceptable and it would not be allowed.
Mr O’Keeffe said the manager tried to argue and protest that it was an acceptable practice.
“We made it very clear that it wasn’t and he didn’t put up too much of a fight,” Mr O’Keeffe said.
“We also raised it with Coles head office, because this is clearly very concerning. Coles at the senior level are aghast that he actually took this step and they have taken steps to make sure not only that it doesn’t proceed but that it doesn’t happen again.
“If an employee of Coles works for the benefit of Coles or indeed for any other company they then are both entitled and required to be paid for it.”