OFF AND RUNNING IN 2019
By Justin Power, Assistant Secretary
2019 promises to be a challenging and rewarding year for the SDA and its members. In this article, I will focus on four issues which will have a direct impact upon our members in 2019. They are enterprise bargaining, the Christmas Eve public holiday, training, and the upcoming federal election.
In 2018, we renegotiated new Enterprise Agreements including the Coles and Woolworths retail agreements. Members overwhelmingly endorsed these agreements with over 90% of the employees supporting the ‘yes’ vote. We fought hard in these negotiations and it is very pleasing that both agreements have paid domestic and family violence leave.
We are currently ‘rolling out’ an agreement in Big W retail and are still waiting for the Kmart retail agreement to be certified by the Fair Work Commission. Negotiations are continuing in Bunnings, Officeworks, Woolworths Meat and McDonald’s.
Whenever we represent our members in negotiations, we have four key priorities. They are:
- Protecting take-home pay;
- Improving penalty rates;
- Securing hard-won SDA Union conditions; and
- Ensuring a pay rise for all employees.
In some negotiations, employers are happy to meet these criteria; in others, they are not. In 2018, the union endorsed most agreements because employers were prepared to meet the four key SDA priorities. Unfortunately, some employers only see their employees as a cost to the business and negotiate accordingly. In those instances, we did not support the agreement.
I suspect 2019 will be no different.
Christmas Eve Public Holiday
We all remember that the union was highly successful in getting the State Government to gazette Easter Sunday as a public holiday in 2017. Our Branch Secretary, Chris Gazenbeek, was at the forefront of the campaign. We were also able to get the shops closed from 6pm on Christmas Eve.
Because Christmas Eve is an important part of the religious and social calendar of our members, we want it to be gazetted as a public holiday from 6pm as it is in other states. Our members strongly supported the campaign. The thousands of signed petitions and postcards were presented to the state government in late 2018. Throughout 2019, Chris Gazenbeek will continue to meet with the government on this very important issue.
Our trainer, Kate Banfield, has already commenced training for the year. She will be conducting several Level 1 and Level 2 training courses in the first six months of 2019 in Brisbane, the Gold Coast and regional areas. Therefore, if you have recently been appointed to a union rep role, look out for your invitation in the mail.
Kate will also be conducting Enterprise Agreement courses once they have been approved by the Fair Work Commission. The Woolworths retail courses commence in mid-March and will be held in Brisbane and all regional areas.
I’ve looked at Kate’s 2019 schedule. Shop Stewards and Delegates should be very happy as they will have many opportunities to attend their respective training courses.
I understand that most Australians are totally dismissive of politicians and politics. The harsh reality, however, is that these same politicians make laws which affect our lives on so many fronts.
Before the election, we will advise members on the alternative industrial relations policies of both the coalition and the ALP. It is important that members have an understanding of these policies when they cast their vote.
Until next time…