Supermarket giant Woolworths faces widespread industrial strife with as many as 2000 workers to potentially go on strike in the coming weeks over pay and job security.
The National Union of Workers last week lodged applications in the Fair Work Commission flagging possible strikes.
“Workers at four Woolworths distribution centes have applied for Protected Action Ballots,” a union spokeswoman told AAP on Sunday.
“The number of workers across the four sites is approximately 2000.”
Industrial action at four giant warehouses in Victoria and NSW would likely cause serious problems for Woolworths in supplying its supermarkets and liquor stores.
The workers are pushing for much improved job security, more full-time work, greater redundancy pay-outs and wage increases of $2 an hour, per year. Depending on their wage and experience that could equate to well in excess of 6 per cent a year.
A Woolworths spokesman said the company was negotiating with staff.
“We will continue to work with our team members and their chosen representatives to get the right outcome at each of our sites,” he said.
“Our number one priority will remain our team members and the service to our customers.”
Staff at the centres still have to vote on whether they will agree to go on strike.
The union’s industrial officer Dario Mujkic said talks over new workplace agreements had stalled.
“Primarily, our members want a fair share of their employer’s profits, and job security now and into the future,” he said. “This isn’t unusual, these are two of the most important issues for NUW members across the country.”
Mr Mujkic said if strikes went ahead it would be the largest industrial action involving the union for decades. The NUW has also reapplied for an industrial action ballot at an important tomato supplier to Woolworths and Coles, Perfection Fresh in South Australia.
The union’s national president Caterina Cinanni said negotiations had stalled after more than six months of talks. It could be the first major farm strike in decades. Ms Cinanni said workers at the site wanted more secure jobs and fair pay rises.