A Coles worker has lifted the lid on the supermarket's Australia Day stance following Woolworths' decision to stop selling themed merchandise, claiming staff are under strict instructions regarding how they tackle the controversial holiday.
The anonymous worker claimed staff have been instructed to avoid the term "Australia Day" and instead refer to 26 January as the "national public holiday" in a bid to be seen as "inclusive", The Advertiser reported.
It follows a nationwide debate over the divisive day. Additionally, Coles staff were allegedly told to position its Australia-themed merch towards the back of its stores.
It comes as Woolies boss Brad Banducci defended his supermarket's decision to not stock Aussie-themed paraphernalia in its stores. According to the business, declining demand in sales of the merchandise is the reason behind the move. Both Kmart and Aldi also announced they would do the same.
Coles staff told 'not to celebrate' Australia Day
While Coles revealed it would still stock "a small amount" of products for Aussies to buy ahead of January 26, it's to be promoted as "summer entertaining" products, rather than Australia Day merch, the employee told the Adelaide publication. It's been reported staff were also told to refrain from celebrating Australia Day with lunches in their team rooms, or by displaying the national flag in stores.
"They wanted to be seen as an inclusive organisation," the employee, who reportedly works for the supermarket at a national level, said. The employee claimed the supermarket's stance "didn't sit right" with some staff members.
"There’s zero reference to the event being called Australia Day. Obviously, we have shops in areas with a high indigenous population and they wanted to be seen as inclusive," they added.
Australia Day has become an increasingly contentious day in the calendar, with growing support for the date to be changed. January 26 marks the day Britain's First Fleet landed in 1788, and in turn, began the oppression of Indigenous Australians.
Yahoo News Australia has reached out to Coles for comment on its Australia Day stance but the supermarket has not responded.
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