Looking back over 2020
By Chris Gazenbeek, SDA Secretary
What matters to SDA members?
I honestly believe that most SDA members wake up each morning wanting to provide for themselves and their families. They want secure employment with decent wages and working conditions in order to live a dignified life. They don’t wake up and worry about identity politics.
Instead, most hard-working Aussies, including SDA members, want the very best for themselves and their loved ones. Throughout our life, our priorities change. When we are very young, we rely so much on our parents. As we become a teenager, we can sometimes be self centred yet we still want the very best for our family and friends. When we enter adulthood, our priorities are shaped and when we enter a serious relationship and maybe marriage, our life heads down a different direction. As we become parents, we want the very best for our children and as we enter retirement, we hope that we have saved enough so that we can retire with dignity.
This is the Aussie dream but the harsh truth for SDA members is that we have to work hard each and every day to make ends meet.
After talking to so many members over the last 26 years, I have come to the conclusion that most SDA members ask themselves questions such as:
- Will I keep my job?
- Can I pay my bills this week and next?
- If I keep my job, will it worth be doing?
- Will I have to deal with obnoxious customers today?
- Will my children get a job?
- When I come to retire, what will my super be?
The difficulty is that so many of our members are living week to week on part-time contracts and as a result, it is very difficult for them to live their lives and to keep their heads above water.
The SDA provides hope
I am a very positive person. I know our members want the best for themselves and their families. It is the SDA’s job is to do the very best we can to help ensure that our members are protected and have decent pay and conditions and one day can retire with dignity. It is our job to give our members the best chance of living the best life they can.
This year has been one of the most challenging years since I assumed the role of Branch Secretary some six years ago. I’m proud to say that the Union has been successful on so many fronts this year. Wage increases, successfully renegotiating SDA Enterprise Agreements, Essential Service Payments, recovery of underpayments and superannuation, more and more retailers accepting the SDA’s No One Deserves A Serve campaign, the adoption of the SDA’s 10 point COVID safety plans, successfully negotiating with the State and Federal Governments around COVID-19. It is also pleasing that membership has grown by 10% this year within the branch.
The Palaszczuk government was re-elected in late 2020 with a thumping majority. I know that the vast majority of eligible SDA members voted for her government’s return. It is important that her government listens to the needs of working people such as SDA members and not concentrate on the side issues which social media forums such as twitter focus on.
SDA members are far more concerned about; for example, shop trading hours, penalty rates and FREE and SAFE car parking than identity politics.
SDA members know only too well that the larger retailers want extended trading hours with reduced penalty rates. Our members also know that when trading hours are extended, no additional jobs are created.
Therefore, we will once again be reaching out to the Palaszczuk government to ensure that trading hours remain the same and are not extended any further. We also need the Government to sort out the loopholes in in Section 5 of the Shop Trading Hours Act which focuses on major events.
The second issue which the State Government needs to become heavily involved in is the issue of FREE and SAFE car parking. It is not good enough that SDA members pay for the privilege to go to work when our politicians of all political persuasions do so at the expense of the taxpayer. Time and time again, the Westfields and AMPs of the world have demonstrated that they only care about their ‘bottom line’ and not about the workers who work in their centres. We need the Palaszczuk Government to introduce legislation to the Queensland Parliament which ensures our members have access to FREE and SAFE car parking.
I am passionate about the SDA and our members. I look forward to working with you throughout 2021 and on behalf of John Hogg our President, the State Council and the Officials of the Branch, I would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a great New Year with your families and loved ones. In particular, I thank our Shop Stewards and Delegates who continue to support the members and the Union.