Coronavirus Australia: Coles joins Woolworths in giving staff pandemic bonus

Coles will give its 100,000 staff a special one-off bonus as a thank you for working through the intense early weeks of the pandemic. The Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association (SDA), the union that represents retail workers, said Australia’s second largest supermarket chain would make a “recognition payment” to frontline employees.
“We welcome this announcement as an important first step to recognise the efforts of Coles workers during this time,” the union said in a Facebook post.
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In a memo to staff, Coles’ chief executive officer Steven Cain said he was “incredibly proud” of the firm’s staff who helped keep the stores open and running particularly when they were slammed as shelves were stripped.
“For eight weeks in March and April, we experienced an unprecedented level of demand and the pressure on our stores, sites, distribution centres and facilities were intense.
“But thanks to your efforts, we were able to move record volumes of stock onto our shelves so Australians could get the food, drinks, and groceries they needed,” he said.
Mr Cain referred to the bonus as a “thank you payment” to weekly paid staff. It will apply to employees working in supermarkets, petrol stations and warehouses.
It’s not known how much the payment will be but the SDA had been pushing for a $5 per hour “essential service payment” for each staff member.
Coles’ move follows Woolworths’ announcement earlier this month that it would financially reward its workers with a bonus payment for their service over the least two months.
Supermarkets saw a huge rise in sales as panic buying took hold in March.
Woolworths said revenue from food was up 10 per cent in the most recent quarter, one of its biggest jumps ever. In a single week in late March shoppers almost doubled spending on food.
Coles saw sales go up by 13 per cent over the same period.
However, retailers have also been forced to spend big on new staff members, increased cleaning and protective equipment such as clear screens on registers. Woolworths has estimated it may have to shell out around $250 million for the COVID-19 led measures.