Lessons from a shoe shop

September 22, 2021 News

By Justin Power,
Assistant Secretary

In a recent chat with an organiser, she told me about an interesting discussion she had with a group of members in a lunch room.

The story goes something like this:

I was in a lunch room having a chat with some members when we started talking about our previous employment. One particular member, Lisa, commented on the fact that she used to work in a busy shoe shop where she experienced varying hourly wage rates, part-time hours being continually changed and only being given occasional rest breaks. She also commented that the giving or not giving of tea breaks depended on the mood of the manager.

Her boss was always going out of the store to phone her partner and left the workers to cover for her which really annoyed Lisa. Worse still, if Lisa or one of her co-workers said something, her boss would get ‘cheesed off’ and then no one would get any tea breaks.

By this time, more staff had entered the lunch room. Lisa further stated that she was denied basic entitlements such as paid personal and bereavement leave, annual leave loading and some weekend penalty rates.

Silver lining

Lisa then told those gathered that it was great that she was now working in a ‘union shop’ where the union was strong and respected. She had met the two SDA Shop Stewards in her first week of employment and quickly learnt about her basic entitlements such as breaks, rosters and leave entitlements.

Lisa has been working in the store for five years and loves her job. She told those present that she valued her job, was paid correctly and received her correct breaks and entitlements. This was a far cry from the shoe shop!

Before she headed back to work, Lisa made the comment that she was horrified that a few of her fellow employees took the union for granted. She was particularly upset that there were four non-members in the workplace that were happy to receive the benefits of union wages but were not prepared to contribute like the other 35 SDA members. She just wished those four would work in the shoe shop for a month, compare their wages and conditions and she felt that they would then think differently.

Both the Organiser and I agreed that Lisa had worked things out very well!

Importance of trained Shop Stewards and Delegates
My conversation continued with the Organiser and we started talking about how Lisa personally experienced the importance of having trained Shop Stewards in her workplace. The two trained Shop Stewards had respectively seven and three years experience as Shop Stewards. They regularly attended their SDA training courses and were then able to impart their knowledge back at their workplace. They were well respected by their SDA fellow members in their store, had a good working relationship with management and the Organiser and the Shop Stewards worked well together.

By the way

I am pleased to report that after the Organiser and I spoke about Lisa’s story, the Organiser visited the shoe shop and we have welcomed another four new members into the SDA.
On another front

In Australia, there is a pot of gold waiting to be found.

  • What if I said that amount is over $13.8 billion?
  • Have I grabbed your attention?
  • Did I tell you it is easy to find out if you have a claim to a portion of the $13.8 billion?

It might surprise you that the pot of gold is unclaimed superannuation in Australia. This pot of gold includes small lost member accounts, insoluble lost member accounts and inactive low-balance accounts.

For example, if you worked for an employer for a short period of time and your super balance was $250, how long do you think the $250 would decrease to $0 as fees and charges are deducted?

Your super fund may have been XYZ fund and because you are working in the retail industry, your current super fund is REST. How do you retrieve the $250 before this amount evaporates?

Actually, it’s easy to find out whether you are entitled to claim unclaimed super.

Go to https://www.ato.gov.au/forms/searching-for-lost-super

Good luck!