Tue. May 17th, 2022

Coles will make a controversial change to the store this weekend, after announcing that all butcher and meat packer roles will be fired.

The first announcement, released in August, reported that over 1,570 workers would be affected across Australia in response to this change and that alternative employment or redundancies would be offered.

From Monday morning, customers can expect to see more pre-packaged meat products in the store, where a small minority of stores still operate meat counters.

“The change will mean that our range of fresh meat will be delivered to stores as retail-ready products and will not require preparation in the store before it is placed on the shelves of our meat refrigerators so customers can buy it,” Cole’s spokesman said. told Yahoo News Australia.

Coles delivery truck.  Source: Getty Images

Meat products will now be delivered ready ready for the shops. Source: Getty Images

The Coles spokesman has also told Yahoo News that the change was made after investing in state-of-the-art facilities.

“In recent years, we have invested in state-of-the-art facilities and worked with supplier partners to produce fresh Australian meat ready for retail with the highest standards for our stores,” the spokesman said.

“To help us meet the changing needs of our customers, we adapt our meat service models nationally in our stores so that we can consistently deliver high quality meat for retail to our customers when they want to shop.”

The spokesman also sheds some light on changes that customers and team members can expect in the store.

“Before making our decision to proceed with these changes, we participated in consultation with affected meat team members as well as their union representatives,” the spokesman said.

Cole’s major supermarket competitor Woolworths has previously undertaken a similar restructuring.

‘Bad choice’: Coles customers blow up meat changes

Coles customers have taken to social media to express their disappointment at Coles’ decision to make most of their qualified butchers and meat packers redundant.

Posted on Cole’s official Facebook page, a dissatisfied customer claimed that her meat was not cooked properly.

“Already seeing a decline in quality with the shift from butcher on site to pre-packaged meat,” the Victorian customer wrote.

“I bought a packet of Eye Fillet steak, which we realized after cooking that they had not been cut properly.”

Meat fat leftovers on a plate.  Source: Facebook

The customer claimed that the lack of butchers in the shop meant that meat was cooked incorrectly. Source: Facebook

“My piece was completely filled with tendons and I couldn’t eat about a third of the steak,” she said.

In response to a previous Yahoo News article describing the restructuring of the store, Facebook users commented that they were far from impressed with the change.

“I do not want to buy delicacies that are already packaged, I want meat that is freshly packaged,” one person said.

“Bad choice, I’m afraid – why not buy your meat from a butcher who buys the meat from local farmers?” wrote another.

“I’ve gone back to a butcher because our delicatessen does not give me a choice,” commented a third.

Trade unions are far from impressed with change

The Australian Meat Industry Workers’ Union (AMIEU) Acting Federal Minister Matthew Journeaux stated in a fierce letter to members in August that Cole did not inform the union of the proposed change until Cole’s employees had received the news.

“AMIEU is concerned that this is a deliberate penny-pinching attack by Coles on hard-working and loyal meat team members trying to move them to a substandard company deal with lower wages and conditions,” the letter reads.

Coles facade.  Source: Getty Images

The unions are not impressed with the effect the change will have on workers. Source: Getty Images

“AMIEU was only informed of the restructuring after our members had been notified by Coles.”

SDA’s secretary Josh Peak told ABC Radio Adelaide in July that the Shop, Distributive and Allied staff association was concerned about the change and disappointed with the loss of opportunities for skilled butchers.

“Butchers in supermarkets were some of the few in the community who carried out this trade, and we have communicated to Coles that it is a really good advantage that they still have butchers in the store.”

“We do not think it is a positive change and we continue to advocate for the preservation of the current arrangements,” he said.

A spokesman for Coles has confirmed with Yahoo News that Coles supports affected team members.

“We are working with affected team members to assess potential redeployment and retraining opportunities within Coles,” they said.

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