SDA CORE BUSINESS: NEGOTIATING EBA’S
By Chris Gazenbeek, SDA State Secretary
In the February edition of the SDA News, I commented that 2018 would be the year of the EBA. This has definitely been the case.
In 2016, the Fair Work Commission changed their definition of the ‘Better Off Overall Test’. The new definition meant that every individual had to be individually ‘Better Off’ than their respective Modern Award.
In simple terms, this meant that if an EBA, for example, covered 80,000 employees and 79,999 employees were markedly ‘Better Off’ by $1,000 and one employee was ‘Worse Off’ by one cent, then the FWC would not approve the Agreement for the 80,000 employees even if the total workforce voted to support the Agreement.
Before every new agreement, we consult with our members, have a meeting of our Shop Stewards to endorse a log of claims and start negotiations with the employer.
In all EBA negotiations, we have four key principles which we take to the negotiations.
- Protect take-home pay;
- Improve penalty rates;
- Secure hard-won SDA Union conditions; and
- Ensure pay rise for all employees.
Given the goal posts have dramatically changed, it is pleasing to report to members that in 2018 we have already negotiated new Enterprise Agreements in Coles retail, the Woolworths, Coles and Big W DCs, Priceline and Best & Less.
WOOLWORTHS AND KMART
At the time of writing, the Woolworths retail agreement is being ‘rolled out’ in the stores and is being well received by members. The new agreement includes an up-front payment, meets the four key principles, introduces 5 paid days and 5 unpaid days of domestic violence leave, increases junior percentages and increases the casual loading. Further improvements are the right of members to be consulted before roster changes are proposed or made and the arbitration of workplace disputes. The arbitration of workplace disputes by the Fair Work Commission is welcomed because problems can be quickly resolved and not drag out for months and in some cases, years.
Drafting has commenced in Kmart for the new agreement and negotiations are at various stages in Bunnings, Big W, The Reject Shop, Officeworks, David Jones, Pizza Hut and Super Retail Group.
It is important for all members, and in particular newer members, to know that no proposed Agreement can be put in place without a vote by the employees.
SUPPORTING INJURED WORKERS
The numerical strength of the SDA has many advantages for our members. It is a fact that employers are more willing to negotiate EBA’s when their workforce is highly unionised as opposed to not being unionised. Secondly, state and federal governments are far more prepared to consult and negotiate with larger organisations as opposed to organisations with minimal membership.
Currently there is a 5 year review of the WorkCover Act and Professor Peetz is chairing this review. Because of the numerical strength of the SDA, I was invited to participate in the review. I submitted that it was extremely important that workers gain a greater understanding of their rights within the legislation.
It is important that our injured members have an understanding that, for example, they can go and see their own Doctor as opposed to the company Doctor. Equally, it is important that injured members can see their Doctor by themselves without management being present.
I invite members to read the Christmas Eve article on page 3 of this SDA News. It is vital that members play their part and send the postcard to Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.
In early 2016, the SDA started our Facebook page @ChrisGazenbeekSDA as another means of informing and educating our members. We have also started an Instagram page, @SDA.Queensland. We have posted hundreds of posts informing our members of their rights and industry developments. The most viewed post has been on self-serve checkouts with over 2,100 comments, 2,800 likes, 31,000 shares and 2,000,000 views.