From the Secretary’s Desk – May 2021
By Chris Gazenbeek, SDA Secretary
SDA takes positive action on the annual Award Wage Review
Each year the SDA and the ACTU argue for a fair and decent wage rise for our members covered by Awards including the General Retail Industry Award and the Fast Food Industry Award. This process is called the Annual Wage Review. These arguments are presented to the Fair Work Commission and the Commission ultimately decides the fate of workers’ wage increase over the next 12 months. The Annual Wage Review (AWR) has become more important because an increasing number of SDA members covered by Enterprise Agreements have their wages determined by the AWR decision.
Members employed in such companies as Best and Less, Big W, Coles, David Jones, Drakes, Harris Scarfe, The Just Group, the Mosaic Brands, Myer, some members in Coles and Kmart, EG Fuel, Woolworths, Hungry Jacks, KFC, McDonald’s, Target and The Reject Shop have their wage increases determined by the AWR process. Therefore, the ultimate decision made by the Fair Work Commission has huge implications for the financial welfare of our members and their families.
It is now a matter of record that in 2020 the Fair Work Commission unfairly delayed the AWR for essential workers in the retail and fast food industries. It is equally true that the Union was successful in our campaign to bring forward the pay rise for the majority of SDA members. However, a small percentage of our members have only just received their 1.75% wage increase.
SDA members are a vital cog in the Australian economy and therefore deserve a decent pay rise. During the on-going pandemic, it has been acknowledged by commentators including the Prime Minister that SDA members have worked tirelessly and have been essential workers during these times. Now is not the time to short change Australian workers including SDA members and therefore, the Fair Work Commission AWR decision must not be delayed as it was in 2020.
How can you help?
The SDA’s submission to the Fair Work Commission will argue for a fair pay rise but this year, we are also going to submit real life stories from members, present our survey results and our petitions. This campaign has been adopted by the SDA throughout Australia and I continue to hear stories from other SDA Branches that our members understand the campaign, are on board with the campaign and are prepared to contribute to the campaign in a meaningful way.
At the point of writing, the survey has concluded and the results are being collated nationally. Close to 2000 Queensland members responded to the survey and members can now assist by signing the petition at national.sda.com.au/essential-payrise/
This campaign is vital because we are talking about real people and real money. We can all understand that any delayed wage increase can mean the difference between, for example, paying the electricity bill or not or even meeting a rental commitment or not.
We will pursue a fair and decent wage increase in the Fair Work Commission with the ACTU in late April/early May. The SDA will produce witnesses who will say in their own words about why the wage increase should not be delayed. We will also present our surveys and petitions and we expect the decision to be handed down before 1 July, 2021.
We will argue that the increase MUST not be delayed as it was in 2020 and therefore, the wage rise MUST be payable from 1 July 2021 and not a day later.
After all, SDA this is what our members deserve!
Negotiations have commenced in the Woolworths BRDC and have also commenced in the Big W Warwick DC. Because Woolworths Limited has decided to close the Big W DC, it is no surprise that redundancy provisions, retraining and a meaningful pay rise are the three major issues of the negotiations.
The BRDC negotiations have been underway for some time and it is pleasing that the negotiating parties are meeting often. We are making progress in some areas and members will continue to be informed on a regular basis.
SDA Delegates are playing a pivotal role in both negotiations and on behalf of our members from both sites, I say “Thank You”.
ANZAC Day 2021
Due to ANZAC day falling on a Sunday in 2021, there was much confusion for members who work on Sundays as large retailers in Queensland were not permitted to trade on Sunday 25 April, however the public holiday was substituted to Monday 26 April.
Most companies had originally told their permanent Sunday staff that they would have to take either paid or unpaid leave for this day, or make up the hours at a later date
However, after consultation with the SDA and consideration of the unique circumstances this year, Coles, Woolworths, Kmart, Target, Big W, David Jones, Myer, Officeworks and Bunnings agreed to pay their permanently rostered Sunday employees at their base rate of pay.
I also wrote to the Queensland Government to request that an additional public holiday is declared for 25 April in the event of a substituion to ensure this situation does not occur again in the future.
This is a great win for SDA members.