Merry Christmas from the desk of the Secretary

December 17, 2019 News

By Chris Gazenbeek, SDA State Secretary

Christmas Eve

Fantastic News! After two years of strong lobbying by the SDA, the Palaszczuk state government has legislated Christmas Eve as a part-day public holiday from 6pm to midnight. This means that our members working in retail, warehousing and fast food will enjoy the benefits of Christmas Eve being made a public holiday.

Make no mistake. This was an SDA led, fought and ultimately won campaign. The SDA applauds the Palaszczuk government’s decision to support hard-working SDA members and their families.

We know that most shops have to cease trading by 6pm on Christmas Eve but importantly, this legislation will provide greater opportunities for our members to attend religious celebrations, spend quality time on Christmas Eve with their loved ones or just have some well deserved rest and recreation before Christmas Day. Others will work and will be financially rewarded as they should.

On a personal note, I would like to thank the thousands of members who have supported this campaign over the last two years. In the space of three years, the SDA has been instrumental in gaining public holidays for Easter Sunday and Christmas Eve.

Woolworths underpayment of Salaried Staff

Recently, Woolworths has announced that it has underpaid up to 6,000 of its salaried managers throughout Australia. As a result, we have been inundated with hundreds of queries, phone calls and emails from our affected members. The company has assured the SDA that it expects the first installment (the last two years from 1 September 2017 to 31 August 2019) of back pay to be made prior to Christmas. Further payments dating back nine years will be calculated and paid once finalised. The calculation will affect current employees and those who have left the company.

If you are or have been in the past a salaried team member, the SDA is here to assist you to ensure your calculations are done thoroughly and that you receive any backpay owed.

Given that the Fair Work Act states that salaries must be greater than what the employee would have received for the same job, hours and overtime as they would have received under the Award, the SDA has written to all the major retailers. We have called for a full audit of their payroll systems with a particular focus on salaried employees, many of whom are members of the Union. This has already generated favourable responses from some companies and we fully expect the other majors to comply with our request.

We will continue to advise our salaried members on this important issue.

Kmart approval

As was reported in the last edition of the SDA News, the Kmart retail agreement was originally rejected by the Fair Work Commission on technical grounds. The SDA decided to appeal the FWC’s disappointing decision to the Full Bench of the FWC. Importantly, we won the appeal and the Kmart Agreement was approved on 20 November, 2019.

This decision is great news for our Kmart members as this Agreement delivers regular pay increases for all employees and the protection of hard-won conditions.

The Agreement strikes the right balance between shifting to a penalty rates structure which reflects full Award penalties while protecting existing Kmart workers’ higher wages and delivering pay rises for all. Also, this new Agreement maintains hard-won above Award conditions such as superior rostering provisions, voluntary work on public holidays and additional public holidays.

The new Agreement commenced operation on 27 November. Members will be entitled to backpay from 1 July 2019.

Officeworks and Kmart DC

The new Officeworks Agreement came into effect from 4 November 2019. The new Agreement locks in regular pay rises, higher weekday pay rates, new and improved pay rates in penalty rate times on weeknights and weekends, paid family and domestic violence leave and a new casual conversion clause.

The Kmart DC Agreement has also been approved by the Commission. This once again means that the Kmart DC Agreement joins with the Coles DCs and Woolworths BRDC Agreement as the three best DC Enterprise Agreements in Queensland.

Merry Christmas

On behalf of the President, John Hogg, the State Council and the Officials of the Branch, I would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and an enjoyable New Year with your families and loved ones. In particular, I would like to thank our Shop Stewards and Delegates who continue to support the members at their workplaces. They freely volunteer their time and are the backbone of the Union.

Stay safe and I look forward to working with you throughout 2020.