From the Desk of the Secretary
As I walk along the corridors of the SDA office, I am reminded of the pioneers of the SDA. Adorning the walls of those same corridors are many black-and-white framed photos of SDA executive members dating back to the 1930s. When I read some of the minutes from those executive meetings, it became very clear to me that the issues which were discussed in those times are not too dissimilar to the issues we talk about today.
Wages, working conditions, shop trading hours, penalty rates, the dignity of work, injured workers and the associated compensation, fair treatment in the workplace and poor management feature heavily in the minutes of those meetings. In 2019, we also talk about those same issues as they are some of the core reasons that our members choose to join and remain members of the SDA.
When I have a chat to members, shop stewards and delegates, I am heartened to hear that they see the value in a collective voice as opposed to an individual voice. They have their own individual aspirations but they also know that by joining together in a union, they have a far better opportunity of attaining their objective. They know, for example, that by joining together, we were able to encourage the State Government in 2017 to legislate Easter Sunday becoming a public holiday.
Similarly, as reported in the Courier Mail on 19th September it looks like that our members will be getting the benefit of a public holiday after 6pm on Christmas Eve, 2019.
Furthermore, the Courier Mail reported that the SDA spearheaded the Christmas Eve campaign. I don’t apologise for this because it has been our members, particularly our nightfill, warehouse and fast food members who have had to work when so many other workers have enjoyed the night off to prepare for Christmas Day. It will be fantastic that so many of our full-time and part-time members who are rostered to work will have the opportunity to say NO to Christmas Eve work and still be paid for it whilst others who do work will receive fair compensation.
On Friday 25 October, I attended Parliament House with five brave SDA members to speak on behalf of all SDA members in relation to the ‘Holidays and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2019’. This is the Bill which will see Christmas Eve legislated as a public holiday from 6pm in 2019 and beyond. I presented to the Education, Employment and Small Business Parlimentary Committee the SDA’s arguments for Christmas Eve being a public holiday from 6pm and our SDA members shared their personal stories of why Christmas Eve means so much to them. The Parlimentary Committee will table the report to the parliament on November 4. It is anticipated the Bill will be debated and voted upon in the November 26-28 Parlimentary Sittings. All going well, the Governor will give his royal assent for the legislation in Early December in time for Christmas Eve to be a public holiday in 2019.
Enterprise Bargaining and Modern Awards
Our members’ minimum wages and working conditions are governed by the content of their Enterprise Agreement or their Modern Award. Since the last SDA News, it is pleasing to report to members that the Big W retail Agreement has been approved by the Fair Work Commission. We are also ‘rolling out’ new Agreements in KFC, Taco Bell and H&M.
In a disappointing move for Kmart workers across the country, the Fair Work Commission rejected the proposed Enterprise Agreement – an agreement which would have delivered pay rises across the board while also protecting and improving workers’ hard-won conditions.
The SDA is appealing this decision and Kmart members will continue to be advised on the progress of this appeal. We are confident that we will win the appeal and Kmart members can once again enjoy the fruits of enterprise bargaining.
I have just learnt that McDonald’s has withdrawn the proposed Enterprise Agreement from the registration process before the Fair Work Commission even though the bulk of the workforce endorsed the proposed agreement. We will continue to engage McDonald’s on behalf of our members and represent their workplace interests.
As part of our ongoing work to ensure members receive their correct entitlements, the SDA recently uncovered a problem with the payment of superannuation for a part-time employee.
The underpayment occurred as a result of payroll code error in the payment of the part-time employee’s superannuation when they had worked hours above their annual contract.
Bunnings has now started the process of reconciling part-time hours worked since 2012. The company will then be issuing a letter to all affected employees advising them of the amount owed as well as compensation.
The SDA will continue to engage Bunnings as we work through the actual amounts owed to members in superannuation payments and also appropriate compensation. Once again, this is a concrete example of the SDA concerning itself with the real issues of members.