TWO SUCCESS STORIES
BY ELIZABETH BERRY, SDA ORGANISER
In this edition of the SDA News, I have decided to write about two success stories concerning members who individually decided that ‘enough was enough’ and made the decision to stand up for their rights.
Josie is a member who works for a major discount chain. She has had many problems with her store manager over the years. Because Josie is the type of person who hates confrontation, she endured many years of unfair treatment from her store manager.
Josie was the second in charge of her department and was performing the designated duties. Her pay slip confirmed she was the assistant department manager even though she was not paid the appropriate pay rate.
Recently, Josie, a single Mum, was instructed to work every Sunday even though she had family responsibilities. Finally, Josie couldn’t cope with the pressure and rang the Union for the first time in her life.
Josie was ‘a mess’ when we met and was terrified of the consequences of going to the Union. Together we formulated an action plan which didn’t involve my direct interaction with the store manager but left the majority of the work in Josie’s capable hands.
Once I showed Josie her rights in her Enterprise Agreement she became angry. She had been exploited for so long without the appropriate financial compensation. I was also able to show her how the family responsibilities clause in the Agreement protected her from Sunday work. After reading this clause, Josie became excited and determined.
Josie wrote everything down and became increasingly confident. Armed with a copy of the Agreement and her notebook, she went to speak with the store manager. During the course of the meeting all issues were discussed and the meeting was very successful.
Josie was exhilarated when she rang me back and informed me the store manager had been taken aback with her knowledge. The manager immediately rectified Josie’s pay with the appropriate back pay and changed Josie’s roster.
For the first time in her working life, Josie stood up for herself, rang the Union office, armed herself with knowledge, and discovered her own power.
The moral of this story is that knowledge is power and standing up for yourself is empowering.
How well do individual members know their Enterprise Agreement? Unfortunately, the majority of retail and fast food workers don’t take the necessary time to read their Agreement. They trust their managers to do the right thing and pay them appropriately. In most instances this is true but unfortunately this is not always the case.
Theo was asked to move to a different department. He knew that the business could move staff within the store wherever they need them so he agreed to the move. However, when he was paid he found that his pay was less than the previous week. Theo asked why this was the case and was told his new position was not at the same grade as the previous one. Theo thought this explanation wasn’t fair but he didn’t like ‘making waves’ and he didn’t think his manager would deliberately cheat him.
Six months later, Theo rang the union office after encouragement from his fellow SDA members. Theo was informed of the appropriate sections in his Agreement and was really disappointed and angry when he learned that a team member can’t go backwards in grading when management changes their job function.
Theo decided to invoke the grievance procedure in his Agreement and requested his backpay. His case was not settled at store level and proceeded to a higher level where it was ultimately resolved to Theo’s’ satisfaction.
The moral of this story is to educate yourself and read your Enterprise Agreement and secondly, always ask the Union for a second opinion.
Ask your Shop Steward or Delegate for a copy of the Enterprise Agreement or alternatively access the Agreement on the SDA website. Happy reading!
As a result of reading Josie’s and Theo’s stories, I hope you are inspired to educate yourself on your rights and importantly stand up for those rights. Once Josie and Theo decided that they wanted to learn more about their rights they took the step and rung the union office. All calls are strictly confidential and today, Josie and Theo are very happy working in their respective stores.