Work & Life
By SDA Organiser, Kym Smith
Gone are the days when mum would stay at home while dad went out to work. Today, most families juggle their working duties with their family life in order to financially survive.
This is the true story of a member’s struggle against the system of a major department store, and how the SDA was able to assist her in gaining back a balanced life.
The member has been a permanent employee for 19 years and had certain roster protections in her Enterprise Agreement. She has a nine year old son and husband who worked most nights and every weekend in the hospitality industry and it was vital that her shifts enabled her to be home with her son when her husband was not.
For years the company have taken this into consideration until there was a recent proposed roster change. The new roster had not only reduced her daily hours, but also required her to work at awkward times, forcing her to find ‘out of school care’ for her son. When she approached management they were rigid in their approach and advised her that the new roster would start in July regardless. They also stated that she should sort out her child minding problems.
The member decided she would take some annual leave as the pressure was getting to her and she was considering resigning. She set about trying to find some after school care but was advised it was booked at least two months in advance.
The member approached the SDA where we informed her that although she is on annual leave, she needed to take up the grievance procedure with the company as soon as possible. We also told her to write a statutory declaration detailing the facts that she had no one to care for her son at the times the company was requesting.
The member, along with her Shop Steward, dually had the meeting with a manager where she was advised that the roster is legal and they must abide by head office’s decision. The statutory declaration was not even read and hence the disputes procedure was invoked.
Again, the member wrote a statement advising management of her predicament. Although the company showed little loyalty towards the member for her 19 years of service, they agreed to look across the store to see if they could accommodate her personal needs and hours.
Following yet another meeting, management supplied the member with an alternative roster which met the member’s needs.
- This story has lessons for all of us:
- It is very important that members know their rights;
- If members don’t know their rights, it is essential that members take the time to learn these rights;
- Learn these rights by reading SDA publications;
- Your Shop Steward is a valuable resource in your workplace;
- Your Shop Steward has undergone professional training at SDA training courses;
- Learn about the different stages of your Grievance Procedure;
- Your Shop Steward is a fellow employee who would be happy to assist you in the Grievance or Disputes Procedure contained within your Enterprise Agreement or Award.
- Your SDA Organiser is only too happy to assist you.
This member is to be applauded for her strong determination in following through with her grievance through the Disputes Procedure in her Enterprise Agreement. It would have been very easy for her to give up. After all, that is what her company wanted. Instead she knew what was important in her life and that the welfare of her child was paramount. Her Agreement supported her stance and the member stood up for her rights. WELL DONE!!
If you are experiencing a similar issue, and believe me it’s not unusual, you can adopt two approaches
- accept whatever roster is placed before you; or
- decide that you are important and that good management tries to align the personal and family needs of their employees with the needs of the business.