Lots to Talk About

September 13, 2019 News

By Chris Gazenbeek, SDA State Secretary

Christmas Eve public holiday

In early August 2019, the Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, announced that her government would legislate to make Christmas Eve a public holiday from 6pm to midnight.

Of course, there are some machinations to get through before the part-day public holiday is legislated but I very much look forward to our members enjoying Christmas Eve 2019 just like so many other Queensland workers.

It is not surprising that employer groups have indicated that this proposed legislation will “penalise retailers at their busiest period of the year”.

What a load of nonsense!

Let’s look at the facts. Retails stores are trading more than ever over the Christmas period. In fact, some shopping centres are open for up to 36 hours before 6pm Christmas Eve. Let’s be honest. If customers haven’t finished their Christmas shopping before 6pm Christmas Eve, they are not fair dinkum.

The SDA welcomes the Palaszczuk government’s proposed legislation because Christmas Eve is no ordinary day. Our members work very hard during the festive season and deserve time off to attend Church services, spend time with their family and friends or use the time to travel or prepare for Christmas Day. In some cases, our members will work and be paid the appropriate public holiday penalty rates.

The legislation won’t change the fact that most shops will close by 6pm on Christmas Eve. From 6pm, many retailers will be preparing for the Boxing Day sales. Most permanent retail members will take the night off without loss of pay and those who choose to work will be fairly compensated. Most of our DC members will be able to take the night off without loss of their ordinary time earnings and our feedback strongly indicates that our members are stoked that they will be able to enjoy Christmas Eve just like so many other workers. Fast food outlets will still open and no fair-minded person would begrudge these hard-working members fair compensation for working on Christmas Eve.

I have personally lobbied the government since 2017 as this is a very important issue for our members and their families. The proposed legislation will not only benefit our members but also those who work in our essential service workers such as firefighters, paramedics, nurses and police officers.

Christmas Eve is a special time and declaring Christmas Eve from 6pm as a public holiday reinforces that community belief.

By legislating Christmas Eve as a public holiday, many workers will have the opportunity to have the night off and still be paid whilst others who have to work will be fairly compensated.

Woolworths Restructure

The SDA took Woolworths to the Fair Work Commission (FWC) because we strongly disagreed with the restructure and the way in which Woolworths are implementing it.

At the Commission we were able to secure from Woolworths the following improvements:

  • A delay in the application process for new jobs;
  • A guarantee that job offers in the new model will be for full-time employees;
  • Salaried SSOs who move to the SSCO role will receive the TTR amounts in the Enterprise Agreement after they commence that role, in addition to any transitional payments;
  • Salaried employees will now receive the more generous redundancy scale from the EA for the purposes of calculating the transition payment if moving to a new job;
  • The more generous redundancy scale from the EA will also apply to workers who take a redundancy;
  • For employees who have been offered and accepted a redundancy, if they stay until the end of the Woolworths notice period, they will receive an additional payment of $2000 in addition to the EA redundancy scale;
  • Members who want to take a redundancy and do not want to stay until the end of the notice period should contact the SDA.

These improvements were included in a recommendation from the FWC which SDA Shop Stewards throughout Australia overwhelmingly endorsed.

Whilst Woolworths did not agree to stop the process, these improvements were only secured because the SDA took action at the Commission.

The SDA continues to oppose the restructure and does not accept that these improvements resolve all the issues concerning the restructure.
We will continue to represent members in any dispute or disagreements they may have as part of the company’s decision to restructure the business.

Enterprise Bargaining

The SDA continues to negotiate new EAs for our members. At the point of writing, we are ‘rolling-out’ a very good agreement at the Woolworths BLDC. We are also negotiating a new EA at H&M.

It is also an unfortunate fact that we are waiting for a range of agreements to be approved by the FWC. These EAs include, Bunnings, Big W, McDonald’s, Officeworks, Kmart DC and Dulux outlets. Members will be advised when these agreements are approved and certified.

I have just learnt that the FWC decided that it could not approve the proposed Kmart Agreement primarily due to voting technicalities. It is also true that 91.7% of those who voted supported the proposed Agreement. The SDA is extremely disappointed in this decision as the proposed Agreement improved pay rates and weekend penalties and also improved conditions. The SDA will continue to fight for Kmart workers and we have already entered discussions with the company to address this issue.

Time moves very quickly and it won’t be too long before we start negotiating a new EA for our Coles retail members. As always, we will be conducting a survey of our members to establish what they consider to be the important claims moving forward.