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HR headlines you might have missed: Recruitment fears, disability employment, and grocery strikes

By Nick Wilson | |5 minute read

Major industrial action, new research on what’s got employers worried about the future, and promising insights on disability employment have kept us busy this week in HR.

Grocery strikes

On Saturday, 7 October, employees of Coles and Woolworths went on strike in Australia’s first nationwide supermarket walk-out.


The walk-out is among the latest in a series of industrial actions taken by workers all across Australia, such as strikes carried out by members of the Community and Public Sector Union.

Among the demands, grocery store workers want better pay to keep up with inflation and cost-of-living pressures.

“Workers are paid a few cents more than the minimum wage,” Josh Cullinan, federal secretary of the Retail and Fast Food Workers Union (RAFFWU), told Nine News.

“They just want a living wage to deal with the rising cost of living; they can’t even afford the groceries they’re selling.”

Better pay isn’t the only item on the agenda. According to Mr Cullinan, members are demanding “workplace measures to counter retail abuse and secure jobs for casual workers”.

Employees want better job security and protection from dangerous working conditions.

“The level of abuse, threats, intimidation, and assaults is unprecedented and outrageous, and the employers are not lifting a finger to stop it,” said Mr Cullinan.

To learn more about the rights of casual employees, click here.

Employer worries

In 2021, COVID-19 complications were at the forefront of employers’ concerns, at 40 per cent.

In 2023, however, employers most commonly reported feeling worried about finding and holding onto staff, at 24 per cent.

These and other results came out of Jobs and Skills Australia’s Recruitment Experiences and Outlook Survey, which asked employers about their greatest single concern over the next three months, considering all aspects of their businesses.

As recently as August, 61 per cent of employers had trouble finding employees in their most recent recruiting round. These difficulties were most reported by smaller businesses.

That said, recruitment difficulties have fallen by 13 per cent from near-all-time highs this time last year.

In second place, 18 per cent of employers reported concerns over a decline in demand and the economy as their greatest concern. In 2021, only 11 per cent of employers regarded this as their main concern.

Another 9 per cent of respondents cited costs as their greatest concern.

Overcoming disability employment stigma

Australians with disabilities make up 37.9 per cent of the population living in poverty, despite making up only 18 per cent of the overall population.

Working-aged Australians with a disability are more than twice as likely to be unemployed as those without a disability.

That said, businesses are increasingly open to the idea of hiring people with disabilities, Stacey Jackson, executive officer at Down Syndrome Tasmania, told ABC News.

“The biggest challenge to employing people with disabilities is often misconceptions and stereotypes,” said Ms Jackson.

“Many employers may have preconceived notions about the capabilities of individuals with disabilities, assuming that they may not be as productive or effective in the workplace.”



Disability is a persistent condition that limits an employee's capacity to carry out routine tasks. It refers to anything permanent or likely to be permanent, may be chronic or episodic, is attributable to intellectual, mental, or physical impairment, and is likely to require continuous support services.

Industrial relations

Industrial relations is the management and evaluation of the interactions between employers, workers, and representative organisations like unions.


The practice of actively seeking, locating, and employing people for a certain position or career in a corporation is known as recruitment.

Nick Wilson

Nick Wilson

Nick Wilson is a journalist with HR Leader. With a background in environmental law and communications consultancy, Nick has a passion for language and fact-driven storytelling.