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IMPORTANT UPDATE FOR TIP TOP MERCHANDISERS RE PROJECT MAXIMUS – Recommendations made for the resolution of dispute and roll out of Project Maximus

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Widespread concerns have been raised by merchandisers over the proposed changes to their runs under 'Project Maximus'. These concerns included:

a)    unrealistic and unsafe working time allocation;

b)    significant loss of working hours for casual employees who have been working regular hours and runs for many years; and

c)    the removal of guaranteed weekly working hours for part-time employees who have agreed to vary their contract.     

United Voice took Tip Top to the Fair Work Commission to address these merchandisers’ concerns. 

Following three conferences before Deputy President Lawrence, and repeated requests for relevant information from Tip Top, Tip Top has failed to clearly explain what perceived inefficiencies Project Maximus is addressing, except ‘sub-optimum routing and sequencing’. 

It has also failed to clearly explain how the new hours - which are supposedly based on a pack rate of 340 units per hour - will address these inefficiencies, given that merchandisers are currently working at a pack of 343 units per hour. Despite providing a lot of new paperwork, Tip Top has not satisfactorily explained how it has derived or applied the new pack rate of 340 units per hour in allocating your new runs.     

However, Tip Top has been forced to admit that:

  1. It plans to reduce the total number of hours allocated to Sydney merchandisers by 486.5 hours per week;
  2. Tip Top cannot force anyone to agree to the new contracts being offered under Project Maximus;
  3. Any part-time employees who agree to the new contracts under Project Maximus will lose their guaranteed weekly working hours and be moved instead to the ‘range of hours’ arrangement under clause 13.2.6 of the Agreement;
  4. It did not make this loss of guaranteed hours clear to part-time employees when seeking their agreement to the new contracts;
  5. Tip Top has 189 or more ‘casual’ merchandisers in NSW, and only 127 permanent merchandisers;
  6. Only approx. 377 hours each week are ‘unknown’ to Tip Top ahead of time, meaning that most casual merchandisers are not offered work on ‘an intermittent or irregular basis to meet requirements for staffing, including fluctuations, peak periods and leave coverage’ (as required by the EA); and
  7. Despite this, Tip Top has not properly offered these ‘casual’ merchandisers permanent employment (although it claims that area managers ‘had conversations’ with casuals about converting to permanent employment).
  8. It must pay overtime to all merchandisers in accordance with the EA.

 In light of the above, and in an effort to resolve the dispute, the Fair Work Commission has recommended the following:

  1. Casual employees be given an opportunity to elect to convert to part-time employment, with the intention that their current hours be maintained;
  2. Part-time employees will be advised that if they agree to the new contract, they will lose their guaranteed weekly working hours and be moved instead to the ‘range of hours’ arrangement under clause 13.2.6 of the Agreement (NB This means that the hours indicated in your new contract are not a new guaranteed minimum number of hours – they may be changed within the relevant range at any time in the future, without your agreement);
  3. Tip Top will explain how the new working times allocated to merchandisers reflect a pack rate of 340 units per hour;
  4. Merchandisers will be advised that overtime will be paid in accordance with clause 17 of the EA;
  5. Project Maximus be implemented in relation to all merchandisers who agree to the changes from 4 January 2016, with ongoing consultation between the parties about its impacts. 

 In light of the above, it is very important that:

  • Casual merchandisers wanting job security with Tip Top consider taking this opportunity to convert to permanent part-time employment. You should receive your invitation to convert by tomorrow Friday 27 November 2015.
  • Part-time employees who have agreed to a new contract consider whether they still agree in light of the loss of guaranteed weekly working hours. If not, you should immediately advise Tip Top of your decision.
  • Anyone who has any questions or concerns in relation to the impact of Project Maximus on them attend the information sessions being held next week as follows:
    • NEWCASTLE BAKERY – Monday 30 November at 11am  
    • CHULLORA BAKERY – Tuesday 1 December at 12 midday
    • ILLAWARRA DEPOT – Wednesday 2 December at 12 midday

 For more information on any of these matters, please contact your Member Support Team on 1800 805 027 - select option 2.

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