SDA appeals penalty rate decision

July 3, 2017 News

By Chris Gazenbeek, State Secretary

Most members have an understanding that on 23 February 2017, the Fair Work Commission unashamedly cut Sunday and public holiday penalties for award-based workers in the retail, fast food, restaurant and pharmacy industries. The decision did not improve the base rate of pay and the changes were to commence from 1 July 2017.

Our members and the wider community were outraged by the decision and rightly so. They knew that the decision would have a devastating effect on thousands of lower paid workers. The decision was unjust and unfair. Our members work hard and deserve more – not less. Penalty rates are not a luxury. For many of our hard working members, they are the difference between meeting financial commitments or not. For many, it’s the difference between paying a bill or not.
The FWC decision treats SDA members and United Voice members as second class citizens when compared with other industries.
Furthermore, the decision fails to properly account for the human cost of cutting low paid workers’ pay.

The decision does not impact upon teachers, nurses, emergency service workers but who knows, they may be next.

The cut in penalty rates comes at a time of record low wages growth for Australian workers. The cut to take home pay is a cut that retail, fast food, pharmacy and hospitality workers don’t deserve and it is a cut they cannot afford.

SDA members working under Enterprise Agreements are not immediately affected by the decision but there is no doubt that this decision will impact upon future Enterprise Agreement negotiations.

I can assure members that my colleagues on the SDA National Executive have had many discussions and telephone
hook-ups since the FWC decision. We have decided that the FWC decision needs to be challenged and that is why we are calling for a judicial review. We have appealed to the Federal Court to overturn the decision on two grounds.

This appeal should take some time and I can assure members that the union is throwing huge financial and people resources into the appeal. We will continually update members on this very important issue.

Trading hours update

Members are well aware that in early 2017 the Full Bench of the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission granted additional shop trading hours in the South-East after the large retailers argued that they should be able to open longer. The SDA opposed the application because we felt that customers had enough time to shop, that those same customers could only spend their money once and that no additional jobs would be created in the retail industry.

In simple terms, the QIRC decision allowed shops such as Woolworths and Coles to trade from 7am to 9pm Monday to Saturday. Importantly, the QIRC listened to the SDA arguments that there was no necessity to increase trading hours in those areas that are not part of the South-East. In addition, they decided that current and future members could not be required to work the additional hours.

At the time of writing, the State Government has introduced legislation into the Queensland parliament which would allow every retail worker the legal right to refuse to work the additional hours. Furthermore, the government is arguing that there be a moratorium on any additional trading hours for five years.  The SDA applauds the Palaczuzuk Government for bringing this legislation before the Queensland Parliament. We are now waiting to see if the legislation gets passed in the parliament and members will continue to be advised.


I hope everyone who attended the SDA Family Footy night on the 9th of June had a great time. It was great to see so many members and their families having a wonderful time.

Make sure you make it to on of our FREE Movie Nights which are coming soon to a theatre near you.