July 8, 2019 News

Every year, thousands of members ask questions of their work colleagues, workplace Shop Stewards and Delegates, SDA Organisers, Information and Industrial Officers.

In this edition of the SDA News, we have covered a wide variety of topics which members have asked of their representatives in 2019:


Q. I work part time as a nightfiller and my roster is 8.00pm to 12 midnight Tuesday to Friday. The other night, I arrived at work 15 minutes early and my boss was happy for me to start 15 minutes early and knock off 15 minutes early. When I received my pay, I was docked 15 minutes. Is this right?
A. In most Enterprise Agreements, rosters can be changed by mutual agreement. It is important, however, that when rosters are changed, the corresponding adjustment is notified to the appropriate pay office. It is also important that you contact your nightfill manager and ask her to make the appropriate adjustment. If you encounter further problems, call us again and we will pursue the matter through the grievance procedure.

Q. My manager tells me to come in early several times a week and then gets me to stay back after my shift. I don’t mind if I’m not too busy but I don’t get paid for the extra work. Now she just expects me to stay back most of the time. What should I do?
A. I believe you know what you should do. The mere fact you emailed the union office tells us you know the answer. You have two choices. You either continue to say yes or you start standing up for yourself and say no. What will it be?

Q. I feel really bullied at work. Even though no one has hurt me physically, I feel intimidated and scared because my boss seems to pick on me more than anyone else. It just makes me feel nervous and uncomfortable; maybe she wants to get rid of me.
A. There are laws which specifically deal with bullying and cover inappropriate behavior towards an employee.
The law specifically states that repeated systematic behavior that victimises, humiliates, undermines or threatens an employee is not allowed.

Examples include threatening behavior, constant intrusive surveillance or monitoring, unreasonable demands and the unreasonable threat of dismissal or demotion.

We advise members to keep up-to-date records to demonstrate the pattern of repeated behavior and to contact their SDA Shop Steward or Delegate. It’s important to speak up if you are bullied, and while this may seem difficult, the SDA is here to assist you every step of the way.


Example 1.

A manager expected SDA members working in a storeroom to stand on a pallet on the tines of a forklift and then be lifted by the forklift to retrieve stock off the racking. Management knew it was an unsafe practice but asked the SDA members to continue the practice until the ordered ‘cages’ would be delivered to the workplace in three weeks.

What should the members do?

  1. Accept the manager is doing everything he can and ask him to see if the ‘cages’ could be delivered sooner.
  2. Accept what the manager said and hope like hell that no one falls off the pallet and gets seriously injured or killed.
  3. Makes the decision yourself that when you are six metres off the ground that you will be extra careful to keep your balance and not fall off.
  4. Go home that night and take out life insurance.
  5. Ring the union and receive immediate assistance.

Ask yourself: What price do you put on your health and safety?

Example 2.

Julie, a 60 year old SDA member works in an old retail outlet. During renovations, asbestos is discovered in the ceiling. Management have told her that minimal exposure to asbestos is okay and given her age, something else will kill her before the asbestos does.

What should she do?

  1. Accept what management said and learn to breathe less.
  2. Accept what management said but wear a protective mask.
  3. Ring the union and receive immediate assistance.

Ask yourself: Should SDA members learn to live with asbestos or should management just fix the problem?

SDA Intervention

In both of these real world examples, SDA members rang the union office and spoke to SDA Occupational Health and Safety Officer, Matt Littleboy. He immediately contacted the head offices of both companies and both problems were fixed. In the first example, head office put an immediate stop to the practice. They hired some ‘cages’ in the interim until the ordered ‘cages’ arrived on site.

In the second example, a Government sanctioned asbestos removal company removed the asbestos from the site.

Importantly, the SDA members are ‘stoked’ with both outcomes.