Young members & the SDA
By Caleb Lacey, SDA Organiser
In my experiences as an employee of an electrical/discount store for over 18 months and as a recruiter and organiser for the SDA, I have learned an important fact about younger employees – YOUNG PEOPLE NEED THE SDA!
How do I know this?
When I was working with this retailer, although my managers were friendly and ultimately good people, some of them nevertheless trampled on our rights to save themselves work. When I started work, I had little idea of my rights as an employee. I now know the manager’s actions were illegal as they didn’t give us breaks and abused our rights to paid time etc.
After a short time with the SDA, I came across similar stories. Talking to young people at, for example, fast food outlets, I hear many stories about their managers trampling their rights. The most common complaints are employees not receiving breaks when the restaurant is busy and people clocking off but still working for a while after their shift.
The view of most young people is that they either do not know what their rights and entitlements are, or they are aware but don’t want to annoy the manager for fear of them cutting shifts, so they put up with their demands.
For those young people in fast food or retail for that matter, let me set a few things straight – breaks are NOT a privilege, they are a RIGHT. Also, it is simply ILLEGAL for you to work and not get paid for it!
Recently, after listening with horror to a few young employees from a fast food chain tell their tales of what injustices they and their workmates endure, I explained to them their rights and that the SDA can stand up for them. They became members straight away!
Those pro-active young people are an example to us all. Managers are not allowed to discriminate on the basis of union membership and are also not allowed to cut your shifts just because you demand fair treatment. Make sure your fellow employees are aware of this, and of their rights at work and to contact the SDA if they run into any issues at work.
It is my belief that young people need the SDA more than any other age group as they are usually the easiest group to be ‘picked on’. The more SDA members there are in your workplace, the less keen the managers will be to cut corners and your rights!
Some of the most common misunderstandings by employees concern paid time. The SDAs policy on unpaid work is as follows:
SDA’s policy on unpaid work
Our policy is very simple – DON’T DO IT.
All work must be paid for whether it is in the workplace or whether it is completing online training courses at home. Awards and Enterprise Agreements have training provision clauses.
The SDA is here to help. One of the advantages of being an SDA member is an individual member can always ask for reinforcements. SDA Shop Stewards, Information Officers and Organisers are here to help; all you have to do is ASK!