223,268 further reasons to join the union

April 30, 2018 Member News Newsletters

By Justin Power, Assistant Secretary

Most members I speak to tell me that they join the SDA because they value the protection of belonging to a union. They like the fact that “the SDA has their back” and secondly, being a member of the SDA “gives them peace of mind”. Long term members tell me that their employer rarely pays anything more than they have to and they’re glad that they work in the Australian retail industry where their wages and working conditions far outweigh those retail workers in countries such as the United States, Canada and the UK. They join the dots and acknowledge the fact that the SDA is a strong union and bargains hard with Australian retailers.

They also tell me that they know of other retail workers who work in non-union shops who never get their tea breaks, have continuing problems with their pay and superannuation and feel like a criminal when they take one day of sick leave.

Of course, these members ‘do the right thing’ and encourage those scared workers to join the union and thankfully, many do.

I compare those workers with our members who have the SDA as their Voice at Work. An important part of the SDA’s core work is improving the wages and working conditions for our members and we do that through enterprise bargaining negotiations and submissions to the Fair Work Commission. A lot of this work is done by our Industrial Officers in conjunction with our Secretary, Chris Gazenbeek and yours truly. But, of course, the SDA is far more than that.

A further example of the SDA’s core work is the work conducted by our three Industrial Officers, namely Darryn Gaffy, Stephanie Purton and David Kerr. I have previously reported to members in this publication that our three Industrial Officers conducted investigations or actions for 286 matters resulting in gross gains for members in the vicinity of $156,272 for the year ending 31 December 2016.

I can now report that a further $148,743 was gained between 1 January 2017 and 23 February 2018. In that time period our Industrial Officers opened and dealt with 335 matters for members. These matters included underpayment of wages, bullying, harassment, workers’ compensation and return to work issues, discrimination, roster issues, warnings, dismissals and redundancies.

These numbers don’t include the thousands of members who have been helped and assisted via phone calls and emails to our Information and Industrial Officers. Thousands of our members have also spoken to our two Information Officers, namely Diane Kirk and Veronica Buckley. Both Di and Veronica know their subject matter very well and I continue to receive tremendous feedback from our members on this wonderful service we offer our members.

Accident Insurance Policy

On a different front, all financial members of the SDA are covered by the SDA’s FREE Accident Insurance Policy. The policy provides world-wide protection for members outside working hours; this way, members are covered at work by Workers’ Compensation and the SDA outside of work. By definition, the injury or worse has to occur as a result of an accident.

Between 1 July 2017 and 28 February 2018, 101 successful claims were made totalling a payout of $74,525. The injuries incurred included broken toes, dislocated shoulders and knee reconstructions.

The SDA first took out the Accident Insurance Policy over 30 years ago and thousands of grateful members have benefitted. Some of those members had exhausted their sick leave entitlement whilst they rehabilitated from their injury and have received their SDA cheque in the mail just at the right time. I am not exaggerating when I say that for many, it has been the difference between paying for the weekly groceries or not.

When you add $148,743 and $74,525 you arrive at $223,268. Yes, being a member of the SDA is an investment in your future.