Secure Jobs, Better Pay
By Chris Gazenbeek, SDA Secretary
Another year is flying by already, and the SDA is continuing to work hard to improve pay and conditions in the retail, fast food and warehouse sectors.
In good news, after much campaigning from the union movement, the Federal Government has assisted our work by passing legislation to take action on wage growth and job insecurity.
In late 2022, the Federal Albanese government made good on their promise to support working people, with the introduction of its Secure Jobs, Better Pay legislation. The Fair Work Legislation Amendment has now received Royal Assent and some changes started to take effect on 7 December 2022 and will continue throughout the year.
This legislation has introduced significant changes to our workplace laws and taken important steps to bring our workplace laws into the 21st century.
Our previous workplace laws were outdated. Australia is in a cost of living crisis which is affecting everyone, wages haven’t grown in real terms and not enough employees are covered by modern enterprise agreements.
For almost a decade, improving workers’ rights was not a priority of the previous Federal Government. This approach has seen wages and entitlements continuously undermined at a Federal level.
We are pleased to see Prime Minister Albanese and his Government set a new course and make wage growth and job security a focus in their term of government.
What does the Secure Jobs, Better Pay Bill do?
- Ensures more people can be covered by EBAs by creating multi-employer bargaining;
- enables unions and workers to commence negotiations for new EBA’s so we’re not left waiting for employers to decide when to negotiate;
- empowers the Fair Work Commission to resolve disputes in negotiations;
- makes secure jobs a key feature of the Fair Work Act;
- gives workers a stronger right to stop workplace sexual harassment; and
- bans endless temporary contracts.
This year we are busy initiating bargaining with many companies with expiring, or soon to expire agreements including: Coles, Woolworths, Big W, IKEA, Best and Less, Harris Scarfe, The Reject Shop.
Entering negotiations to make new Enterprise Bargaining Agreements will enable the SDA to negotiate with companies and ensure more members receive consistent, fair pay increases and above Award conditions.
The SDA also made a submission to the Annual Review and campaigned for Award workers, and Agreements with pay rates reliant on the award to receive a decent pay increase
The Fair Work Commission recently handed down the decision, locking in a 5.75% increase for all workers covered by a Modern Award.
With the price of necessities continuing to rise significantly, including housing, groceries and fuel – essential workers cannot keep absorbing the price increases and this wage increase will surely help lift the burden.
We also know that job security is an issue on the front and centre of our members minds.
Full-time work is becoming scarcer than ever, with too many people employed endlessly as casuals, on fixed term contracts or by agencies. People should not have to work two or three jobs just to make ends meet.
If you’ve been a casual employee for more than twelve months and you’d like to convert to part time work, you may be elibile to convert to permanent work if you’ve had regular and consistent hours for the past six months. Converting to a permanent contract will not only secure your hours and give you greater roster stability, you’ll also receive more entitlements such as annual leave and sick leave.
The new legislation has also introduced gender equality and job security into the objects of the Fair Work Act and the modern awards objective.
As a result, the Fair Work Commission is required to take these matters into account when performing its functions or exercising its powers under the Act, including when varying modern awards.
While this legislation is definitely a step in the right direction for Australia’s workplace laws, there is still much to be done. As a union we need to use these changes to create positive outcomes for our members.