Two case studies we can all learn from
By Liz Berry, SDA Organiser
About the Author
SDA Organiser Liz Berry has been an active member of the SDA for over 16 years and has been a unionist her whole working life.
Liz represented the members at David Jones Garden City where she was an SDA shop steward for nine years. Once accepting the role of a shop steward, she saw the importance of attending and participating in SDA industrial training courses.
Liz started working for the SDA in 2011 where she manned our phones as an SDA Information Officer, offering professional advice to our members.
In early 2015 Liz commenced work as an Organiser in Ipswich and the Western suburbs of Brisbane.
Liz’s members love her commitment to the job and friendly nature.
Good job Liz!
CASE STUDY 1: HOME ALONE
Who’s looking after the children?
Who is minding the children? That’s the dilemma many SDA members are confronting on a daily basis. In today’s world, more and more families are only surviving financially if both parents are working in the paid workforce. Parents continually juggle their parental and financial responsibilities the best way they can and sometimes these demands conflict with each other.
A recent example
In April, a distressed member rang the Union office because her manager had given her a roster change which included Sunday work. Also, her husband was working in an occupation which required Sunday work (which the member’s company knew about). The couple had recently moved to a new suburb and had no family or friends to look after their children. The proposed roster change meant their twin girls aged 6 would have to look after themselves for seven hours on a Sunday.
Unbeknown to the member, her Enterprise Agreement contained a family-friendly provision which required the employer to have regard for the family responsibilities of the employee when establishing or changing a roster.
The SDA is very aware of how parental responsibilities impact upon our members. Equally, we are aware that some site managers are poorly trained in the finer details of the respective Enterprise Agreements.
After listening to the member, we advised her of her entitlements contained in her Enterprise Agreement. Unfortunately, her workplace did not have a trained Shop Steward and the members were not aware of the many benefits contained in the Agreement.
The member wasn’t confident enough to go and see the manager by herself. As a result, the SDA Organiser became involved and made an appointment to see the manager. The member, SDA Organiser, Store and Assistant manager had a meeting and were able to sort out the issue to everyone’s satisfaction. The member has a new roster which involves Thursday work after 6pm. This suits her family responsibilities as her husband is able to look after the girls.
This issue highlights the importance of the SDA having the foresight to negotiate these family-friendly provisions into our Agreements in the 1990’s and beyond.
Mum and Dad are very happy with the outcome. They did not want to be forced into the situation where their girls were home alone. Our member is very glad she is an SDA member and has encouraged the non-members in her store to join the Union.
By the way, our member’s husband has joined his Union!
CASE STUDY 2: NEVER SIGN, NEVER RESIGN
We recently had a young member who was so harassed by her department manager she resigned from her 2IC position. It later emerged that the manager had an ulterior motive – to promote a friend to the now vacant 2IC position. We’ve also had a few calls lately from members who signed warning documents they didn’t agree with.
From a union perspective both these circumstances are similar. Our members acted first and called us later. And this makes our job of protecting members’ rights much more difficult. Company representatives cannot – and should not – force you to resign or sign anything.
If you disagree with a document but are required to sign as evidence you’ve read it, you should write, “I have read this statement but I do not agree with its contents”, and then sign.
You are entitled to a copy of any document you sign.
Always insist that your SDA Shop Steward, SDA Delegate or another trusted person witness any counselling or cautioning interview.
So if you’re being bullied, harassed or coerced at work….let the Union – either your Shop Steward, Delegate or organiser – know. Call us before you act.
Remember NEVER SIGN, NEVER RESIGN.