July 8, 2019 News

By Chris Gazenbeek, SDA State Secretary

The SDA’s primary role, as always, is to remain focused on our members’ interests. This means that we continue to organise our workplaces and secure good Enterprise Agreements for our members.

The 18 May election result, with the return of the Coalition government, has meant that the promised legislative reforms of the ALP did not eventuate. There is no doubt that the promised industrial relations reforms of improved enterprise bargaining, the protection of penalty rates, winning fairer pay rises, stopping wage theft, making jobs more secure and making taxes fairer would have benefitted SDA members.

That is why the SDA strongly supported the ‘Change the Rules Campaign’ so that the industrial rules governing workplaces could become fairer for working people.

We all know the election result and we move on.

The Bargaining system, with all its current shortcomings, remains a key platform for advancing the interests of our members. Protecting and improving our major Awards is a critical foundation to our bargaining strategy.

Membership growth, a stronger network of Shop Stewards and Delegates and effective representation at the bargaining table are the only levers now to delivering fairness in the workplace and ‘just’ wage outcomes for our members.

Our track record on delivering for our members in a bargaining IR system over the past 25 years is impressive.

The ‘goal posts’ have changed in the last three years which has meant that ‘loaded rates’ are no longer accepted by the Fair Work Commission when they determine whether they certify an individual Enterprise Agreement or not.

The present system of bargaining in Australia has many shortfalls and whilst improving this system is not possible now in the medium term, we still deliver wage increases, general protections and higher levels of compliance for our members in this challenging system. The SDA wants to remain a bargaining union because it is through bargaining that we can deliver superior wage outcomes, improved conditions and entitlements, more open and democratic workplaces and high compliance levels.

At the point of writing, we are ‘rolling out’ Agreements in Officeworks and in Coles meat departments. Negotiations are continuing in Bras n Things, KFC, Taco Bell, H&M and the Woolworths BLDC. The Kmart, Bunnings and Big W Agreements were recently supported by the employees and we are waiting for these Agreements to be approved by the Commission.

The McDonald’s Agreement was recently endorsed by the McDonald’s workforce and we will be making representation to the Fair Work Commission seeking to make further improvements to the Agreement.

We have recently represented our members in the Super Retail Group, Haigh’s, Noni B and Prouds. We were disappointed with the outcome of these negotiations and couldn’t recommend these proposed Agreements.

We have worked hard to remain a bargaining union and we are well advanced in this objective. We have continued to effectively represent retail, fast food and warehouse workers both in bargaining and with their issues at work.

Woolworths Retail

Woolworths have recently announced a restructure of the store operating model for Woolworths Supermarkets. It is only natural that members, most of whom are long-serving loyal employees, are very upset with the Company.

The SDA’s focus in this restructure will be on protecting members’ ongoing employment and minimising the impact of any changes to our members.

To be clear:

  • The SDA has NOT agreed to these changes;
  • This is entirely a company decision;
  • This is in no way connected to the new EBA;
  • The SDA does not support people being asked to reapply for their same job or for a similar job;
  • The SDA’s position is that members should not be left worse off.

Fair Work Commission

Given the issue has a ramification across all Woolworths supermarkets throughout Australia, the SDA is taking Woolworths to the Fair Work Commission. We have serious concerns about, for example, the restructure itself, that the Company failed to properly consult workers and the union and that many of the planned redundancies are not genuine.

I stress to all Woolworths affected members that we will support you every step of the way throughout this difficult process.

Coles DCs

Recently, Coles DC members were also hit with a bombshell when the company announced that they were going to close their current sites and establish an automated Distribution Centre by 2022.

Once again, many of our members are long-serving employees of the company. Some of the discussions have been fruitful but we know we have a long way to go until we can reach a satisfactory outcome for our members.

Just like Woolworths members, we will ensure the interests of our Coles DC members are protected.