‘Same job, less pay’: Country Road workers protest at Melbourne Fashion Week | Australia News

As a Country Road executive took part in a digital panel on ethical clothing for Melbourne Fashion Week on Wednesday, dozens of the company’s warehouse workers staged a protest outside a department store selling the company’s clothing. ‘business.

Country Road Group (CRG) has a stable of leading fashion brands including Country Road, Witchery, Mimco, Politix and Trenery.

The company also speaks out on the topic of ethical supply chains, with CRG’s website stating, “We are committed to high social, ethical and environmental standards in the supply chain, as well as empowering marginalized artisans thanks to Mimco’s long-term partnership. with the Ethical Fashion Initiative ”.

But workers at the company’s shipping warehouse in Melbourne’s western suburb of Truganina accused CRG of failing to meet those standards, after learning that the 150 employees, mostly women, are paid up to 10. $ less per hour than the predominantly male workforce. doing the same job, just across the road at the Hanes Bonds warehouse.

Workers were preparing to strike Monday, with support from the United Workers’ Union, after an earlier protest Sunday outside the Country Road flagship store in South Yarra in Melbourne.

The strike was postponed to allow all members to participate in a vote, with the union accusing the company of applying smelly manure in the gardens outside the warehouse on Monday morning, where the protest was scheduled to take place .

The union on Wednesday invited the public to attend a protest outside David Jones’ CBD store at 11 a.m., at the same time as a Country Road executive was scheduled to appear on a Melbourne Fashion Week panel discussing ethical fashion.

The invitation suggested that the public might wish to see “CountryRogue’s” latest collection, called Truth, which warehouse workers “model” on a “pop-up track.”

Invitation from the United Workers Union to attend Melbourne Fashion Week. Photograph: Union of United Workers

Union logistics coordinator Mick Power said women workers at CRG complained that they were subjected to contemptuous and intimidating tactics by management after questioning the pay gap.

“Several precarious workers have reported to authorities that their jobs have been threatened if they participate in industrial action,” he said.

“Examples include dictatorial Amazon-style announcements made at staff meetings.

“I have worked with antagonistic bosses in the past, but the behavior displayed by managers towards the workers of Country Road Group is downright shameful.”

CRG sent a written statement to Guardian Australia on Wednesday saying the company strives to deliver fair and sustainable salary growth for its distribution team and has consistently paid salaries above the industry award rate. set by the Fair Work Commission.

The current offer on the table was 11% higher than the award rate set by the Fair Work Commission and provided for an annual salary increase of 2.7% for the next three years, the company said.

“Country Road Group has a strong female representation at all levels of our business, including within our leadership and management teams. We are an equal opportunity employer, pay our team fairly and do not tolerate any type of discrimination based on sex or otherwise.

“Unfortunately, the UWU has responded to a fair and reasonable process by attempting to publicly discredit our brands and our team members with false and unfounded allegations.

“The UWU has also engaged in activities designed to intimidate and intimidate team members who wish to go to work.

“Illegal picket lines prevented our employees from working and impacted the rights of our team. These actions are clearly unfair to our team and we call on the UWU to respect the negotiation process.

The company said the manure incident was part of a “scheduled monthly maintenance program, which used fertilizer.”

The union said CRG workers could start legally protected action next week.

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