Coles mandatory jabs lag in Vic, NSW

Supermarket giant Coles has revealed how it will enforce staff vaccinations across the country.

Coles has revealed how it will enforce staff vaccine mandates across the country.

The supermarket giant will not be mandating the Covid-19 vaccine for all its workers.

Instead, it will be relying on health orders in some states.

Coles executives are encouraging staff to be vaccinated but are not enforcing a blanket rule.

More than 70 per cent of Coles staff in Victoria and NSW have been fully vaccinated, after the company jabs mandatory for staff in those states last month.

Rival Woolworths and German giant Aldi went the whole hog that same day, announcing their entire workforces around the nation must be inoculated.

But Coles instead only made it compulsory in NSW, Victoria and the ACT, and is relying on public health orders in other jurisdictions.

“State government vaccination mandates for essential workers in Victoria and for high-risk local government areas in NSW have been highly successful in increasing vaccination rates in the community and among our team,” chief executive Steven Cain told the supermarket giant’s annual general meeting on Wednesday.

“More recently, the Northern Territory and Western Australian governments have made health orders requiring essential workers including our team members to be vaccinated, and we’re working with our team to help them get their shots and comply with these regulations.

“In NSW and the ACT, Coles and other major retailers have also made vaccination a requirement to work in stores, distribution centres or support centres, unless team members have a valid medical exemption.

“This includes … vulnerable family members such as elderly relatives and children who are not eligible for vaccination.”

Mr Cain said while more than 94 per cent of staff in NSW and Victoria had been jabbed once, and Coles would continue to work with health authorities and staff to “strongly encourage” vaccination in Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania.

The retailer was quizzed about the decision to axe in-store butchers in favour of off-site automation, revealing just one-third had remained with the business in other roles.

“For the balance, they have decided that the redundancy package which had been negotiated and agreed was perhaps the more attractive option,” chairman James Graham said.

“It has been handled appropriately and very fairly, and it’s a decision we believe will be in the long-term interests of ensuring that what we offer customers is going to be the best possible product at the best possible price and with the greatest availability.”

Mr Graham said about 1400 permanent or part-time butchers had been affected.

Originally published as Double dosed Coles staff behind state rates in Vic, NSW despite looming deadlines

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