The Value of Training for Shop Stewards and Delegates
By Justin Power, Assistant Secretary
In a recent chat with an Organiser, she told me about an interesting discussion she had with a group of members in a lunch room.
The story goes something like this:
I was in a lunch room having a chat with some members when we started talking about our previous employment. One particular member, Jodie, commented on the fact that she used to work in an ice cream shop where she experienced varying hourly wage rates, part-time hours being continually changed and only being given occasional rest breaks. She also commented that the giving or not-giving of tea breaks depended on the mood of the manager.
Her boss was always ‘nicking outside’ for a smoke and left the workers to cover for him which really annoyed Jodie and if she said something he’d get ‘cheesed off’ and then no one would get any tea breaks.
By this time, more staff had entered the lunch room and Jodie stunned everyone when she also said she was paid ‘cash-in-hand’. As a result, we learnt that she was denied basic entitlements such as superannuation, workers’ compensation, sick leave, annual leave, annual leave loading and penalty rates.
Jodie further commented that it was now great that she was working in a ‘union shop’ where the union was strong and respected. She was rapt that she had met the two SDA Shop Stewards in her first two days of employment and quickly learnt about her basic entitlements such as breaks, rosters and leave entitlements.
This particular member had been working in the store for three years and loved her job. She told those present that she valued her job because she was paid correctly and received her correct entitlements.
Before she headed off back to work, Jodie made the comment that she was horrified that a few of her fellow employees took the union for granted particularly the four non-members in her store. She just wished those four would work in the ice cream shop for a month, compared their wages and conditions and she felt they would then think differently.
We both agreed that Jodie had worked things out very well!
Importance of trained Shop Stewards and Delegates
My conversation continued with the Organiser and we started talking about how Jodie experienced first-hand the importance of having trained Shop Stewards in her workplace. The two trained Shop Stewards had respectively eight and two years experience as Shop Stewards. They regularly attended their training courses and were then able to impart their knowledge back at the store.
They were well respected by fellow members in the store, had a good working relationship with store management and their Organiser.
By the way
At the time of writing, our Organiser will be visiting the ice cream shop next week