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Woolworths taken to Fair Work Commission over redundancies

The Woolworths Group Ltd (ASX: WOW) share price will be one to watch this morning after Australia’s largest retail workers union announced that it would be taking the company to the Fair Work Commission over recent changes to the way it operates its supermarkets.

What was announced?

On Tuesday afternoon the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association announced on its Facebook page that it was taking Woolworths to the Fair Work Commission over its recently revealed supermarket restructure.

For those that missed it, this restructure includes the creation of two new departments called “fresh convenience” and “fresh service”.

This has been done in a bid to steal market share from competitors such as Coles Group Ltd (ASX: COL) and Metcash Limited (ASX: MTS). The idea is that Woolworths staff will have better knowledge to be able to advise customers of products and how to use or cook them.

The plan will result in some role changes and the company revealed to News Corp media that those who aren’t able or willing to be retrained or placed elsewhere will be offered a redundancy.

This hasn’t gone down well with the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association.

Yesterday it said: “The SDA is taking Woolworths to the Fair Work Commission against the restructure. The SDA has serious concerns that the Company failed to properly consult workers and the union and that many of the planned redundancies are not genuine.”

However, a company spokesperson told Yahoo Finance that Woolworths has been proactive in consulting with the union on structural changes.

It added: “Our immediate focus is identifying as many redeployment opportunities as possible for impacted team members across our business. Under the new model, we’re creating more customer facing leadership roles to help deliver better service to our customers and to meet their changing shopping needs. Importantly, the changes will not lead to a net reduction in the overall number of team members we employ in our stores.”

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Motley Fool contributor James Mickleboro has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of and has recommended COLESGROUP DEF SET. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

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