2018 – the best of years

December 11, 2018 Newsletters

By Chris Gazenbeek, SDA State Secretary

As I write my Christmas editorial, I can’t help but think how much the Union has gained for members over the last 12 months. My guiding principle since I became Queensland Branch Secretary some four years ago has been that members must come first, second and third.

That is why the SDA concentrates so hard to improve the lives of our members both in and outside the workplace.

We all know that members rely on the SDA to gain fair wages and working conditions. Therefore, we bargain hard and we’ve had great success in 2018.

Some of these successes are:

  • The Coles Retail Agreement which was approved by over 90% of employees;
  • The Woolworths Retail Agreement which has been overwhelmingly endorsed by the membership with close to 94% supporting the agreement. We are currently waiting certification from the Fair Work Commission;
  • David Jones has followed Coles and Woolworths with over 90% of the employees supporting the new agreement;
  • At the time of writing, Kmart employees are voting on their new agreement and Big W and Officeworks is close to finalisation;
  • Bunnings negotiations are taking some time but we are closer to reaching an agreement;
  • The Reject Shop and Priceline agreements have been finalised with close to 95% of employees supporting their agreements;
  • Successful negotiations in the Coles, Woolworths and Big W DC Agreements. The members at these sites enjoy some of the best wages and conditions in Australia and are very loyal SDA members. They have stuck with the SDA through thick and thin against a backdrop of deceit, lies and innuendo by others.

We were also instrumental in gaining a 3.5% wage increase for our Award-based members and we were also very successful in gaining substantial increases in Award-based late night and Saturday loadings. This also had positive implications for our retail Enterprise Agreements with, for example, Coles and Woolworths casual retail members gaining substantial increases.

No One Deserves a Serve

In 2017, we commenced our No One Deserves a Serve campaign throughout Australia. Our members jumped on board because the campaign struck a chord with them. In a nutshell, they are fed up with rude and abusive customers.

Enough is enough.

We launched our media campaign which resonated with members and the wider public. The television, radio, newspaper and social media ads highlighted examples of customers abusing retail workers.

Throughout 2018, we have had roundtable meetings with employers, centre managements and industry leaders to see what can be done in the short term and longer term.

In the past, many managers rewarded irate customers with gift cards when, in fact, those customers had just abused retail and fast food workers. This practice has to stop and is stopping. No customer should be rewarded for abusing workers.

We know this campaign is a long one but it is a campaign worth winning. Members will once again see retail ads depicting rude and abusive customers in the lead up to Christmas and throughout January.

This Christmas, we will also be highlighting the problems in the fast food industry. Watch the new advertisement here. We surveyed our fast food members earlier this year and their stories are very similar to our retail members. I would like to share three horrific stories from our members.

“I have had a drunken customer try to pull me out of a window; a customer has climbed through the drive-thru window and tried to attack me while I was trying to push him back outside. I have had a customer jump over the counter and walk into the back area and try to attack one of my employees before I had to shove him outside. Customers throw their food at me, throw drinks and throw desserts”.
– 22 year old female.

“It amazes me how many people abuse me and what rude comments I receive daily from my job. The most recent one was when a man began to scream and swear at me and a co-worker because we didn’t bag his food fast enough for him. He began to call me an idiot, a moron and many other inappropriate words that I would prefer not to say”.
– 16 year old female.

“The customer kept going off at me blaming me for the mistakes and even after minutes of me trying to defend myself she was relentless in trying to make me feel bad about myself”.
– 15 year old female.

As a parent, I shook my head when I first read these comments. This makes me more determined to highlight the abuse our members receive by the broader public and reinforces in my mind the need to continue this important campaign. In the short term, I would encourage all members to report customer abuse immediately to your manager.

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.
Stay safe and I look forward to working with you in 2019.