Aldi distribution centre (DC) workers across Australia will receive up to $10 million in underpayments following a Federal Court decision that found that designated “pre-work” tasks should be remunerated.
In a case brought by the SDA trade union, the Federal Court agreed that Aldi had no right to mandate that DC workers clock on prior to their rostered start time to undertake a variety of tasks. These included walking materials to the handling area, driving store pickers and undertaking safety checks, picking up items like markers and pallet wraps, registering administrative matters on a sign-in sheet and undertaking a “group physical warm-up and toolbox talk”.
However, in a statement commenting on the verdict, an Aldi spokesperson said the court proceedings related to just four employees in one of its DCs and that the scale of the underpayments has been exaggerated by the union.
Aldi said the numbers quoted by the SDA are “significantly inflated” and not “representative” of the number of employees impacted.
“We are reviewing the implication of the court’s decision on other employees across our business and will seek to apply the principles of the court’s decision fairly to any other affected employees.”
Bernie Smith, SDA NSW’s branch secretary, said the retailer was one of many large employers that underpay their workers.
“Unlike the way the multinational likes to present itself in its advertisements, it turns out Aldi is not good and not different. Multinational companies operating in Australia can’t set their own rules.”
The court is yet to determine the penalty payable by the retailer for breaching the Fair Work Act 2009.