As a strike at a Coles warehouse enters its second day, experts have warned the impact will take less than a week to impact supply to supermarkets.
About 600 workers are striking at the Somerton warehouse in Melbourne’s north, calling for improvements to working conditions including shift lengths and the accumulating rostered days off (RDO’s).
The workers say their working conditions are worse than those at all other Coles warehouses.
Victorian supermarkets will start to see a decrease in the availability of products including toilet paper, beer and toothpaste.
"I think you will see an impact at about the six-day mark, there could be empty shelves," National Union of Workers state secretary Tim Kennedy told the Herald Sun
"If they do run out of beer then they will probably start talking to us."
Imported beer brands including Heinekin, Corona and Becks could be affected, he said.
Coles, which has stood down hundreds of workers at the distribution centre, argues that the action is unlawful, and has lodged an application with Fair Work Australia this morning, The Age reports.
The supply impact of the strike will spread, Coles predicts in its application.
"The company believes that industrial action will spread to all three sites," Coles said in the application.
Coles has apparently spent millions of dollars on trying to lessen the impact of the strike by sending products to other warehouses, but workers at the Somerton warehouse say they are determined to continue the action until they get a response.
"Most consumers will not take the risk to go to a Coles supermarket now in the belief that things may not be there," Kennedy told reporters at the warehouse.
"They'll probably go to the competition, so it will have a significant effect on sales for Coles."
Workers began their strike outside the plant at 6am Tuesday and braved the rain and freezing conditions last night to continue their fight.
The union said it was set to speak with Toll management which manages workforce issues at the site later on Tuesday.
Christopher Whitefield , spokesman for Toll Management, which manages workforce issues at the site, said the company had offered a four per cent pay rise, which is higher than similar work sites.
"In order to keep attracting and retaining the best people, Toll will continue to balance the needs of the business to remain competitive within the industry," Whitefield said in a statement.
What do you think of the workers' strike? Is impacting the supply to stores the only way to get the attention they need?