Coles' 'rotten' Christmas present to staff members blasted as 'slap in the face'

Staff and a supermarket union say the present offered by Coles isn't adequate recognition.

With the end of 2023 fast approaching Coles workers have been told what their employer is offering them as a Christmas present in recognition of their hard work — and it's fair to say many are less than impressed, with one union boss going as far as branding the offering "a slap in the face".

An email sent to supermarket staff members reveals they will be receiving a Coles branded water bottle each, plus five 'mythanks' points as part of an in-house reward scheme. A person believed to be a disgruntled worker shared a photo of the email online, calling the present "an absolute joke".

"The executives at Coles decided that the frontline staff who work their asses off and cop abuse on the daily are only worthy of a Coles branded water bottle and 5 'points' (equivalent to $5) for Christmas this year," the post read.

An email with text describing the gifts and information associated with the rollout, alongside a picture of a red Coles water bottle.
The email announced Coles staff will receive a water bottle and five 'mythanks' points was shared online. Source: Facebook

Unions call Coles' Christmas present a 'slap in the face'

The Retail and Fast Food Workers Union (RAFFWU) — who led the worker strikes last month demanding better pay and work conditions for supermarket staff — has responded to the Christmas presents being offered and admitted it is struggling to comprehend Coles' decision.

"Coles workers cannot afford the food they sell. They are subjected to vile threats, abuse, assaults and intimidation daily," RAFFWU secretary Josh Cullinan told Yahoo News Australia. "This rotten response, a second-rate drink bottle, is a slap in the face for our pandemic essential heroes."

"They can keep their drink bottles and instead give us living wages, safer workplaces and secure jobs."

Workers demand Coles 'do better'

The email has since been shared in a private Facebook group for Coles workers, where staff have widely discussed the Christmas offering.

The announcement including a list of requirements staff have to adhere to, such as workers not being permitted to have a second bottle if the store has additional ones, has been slammed online.

"Huge list of rules for a water bottle. Jesus christ. Making sure there's absolutely nothing festive about it at all," one wrote online, with the poster calling the offer a "kick in the face" and telling Coles to "do better".

"Surprised they didn’t add 'when using the drink bottle you must ensure the Coles brand is not obscured by your hands'," a third said, while others were "gobsmacked at their audacity!".

A Coles store front can be seen decorated with tinsel.
Coles has been slammed for the Christmas present it is offering staff this year. Source: Getty

Coles confirmed to Yahoo News Australia staff will be offered a water bottle and 'mythanks' points as "small additional gifts" alongside in store and online discounts available to them during December and January.

"We offer also our team increased discounts on exclusive liquor brands and increased Flybuys points as we head into the holiday season. Each of our stores also have a Christmas gathering, which includes a shared meal to celebrate as a team," a Coles spokesperson said, saying all the above demonstrate their "appreciation" for their staff.

Coles have made significant in-store changes this year to ramp up security measures, with supermarket workers required to be adaptive as teething issues with the systems persist.

Australia's supermarkets have this year reported a rise in theft in stores amid a gruelling cost-of-living crisis. While a large focus has been on customers, staff have also been subjected to mandatory bag checks at the end of their shift. Mr Cullinan has slammed supermarkets for targeting some of Australia's lowest paid workers amid ongoing accusations of price gouging.

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