June 15, 2021 Our Resources

by Reginia Tufuga, SDA Organiser

The following story is based on a member who was confronted with a rostering problem. He did not check with the SDA about his rights and entitlements. He believed his manager at the time would do the ‘right’ thing by him.

Michael’s story

Michael was employed in a retail company to work Monday to Friday on the dock where he received goods. This suited him as he had a young family with sporting commitments on the weekend.

One day, the Manager called Michael into the manager’s office to discuss the loss of a significant amount of stock (dollars). The Manager told Michael they had proof, that it was his fault, but instead of sacking him, they would change his classification and move him on to the shop floor. The Manager assured Michael he would look after him.

Unsure of his entitlements, Michael followed the Manager’s directions and commenced work on the shop floor. Michael was frustrated but didn’t know what to do. Seeing as though his roster wasn’t changing, he didn’t have too much to complain about – he thought.

Months later, Michael was approached by his Department Manager to work Saturdays. Michael still had the commitments to his young family on the weekends and was not comfortable compromising those commitments.

Michael contacted the SDA

Michael was advised that his Enterprise Agreement contained family friendly provisions and after hearing his concerns, Michael was advised to offer a compromise to the company. Michael’s family commitments were particularly time consuming for six months of the year and were less hectic over the remaining six months. Michael was advised to speak to his supervisor and advise him of his availability over the course of the year. The supervisor said the company would consider the compromise offer.

Within a week, Michael was presented with his new roster. To Michael’s total surprise, his next roster contained 3 Saturdays over the 4 week roster cycle. Once again, Michael had not been consulted on the new roster and his unavailability was not considered.

Before seeking further advice from the SDA, Michael accepted and commenced the new roster!

Michael approached his Department Manager and reminded him of his unavailability. He responded with, “it must have been an oversight, don’t worry, it’ll get fixed”.

Ten days later, Michael was still rostered on those Saturdays. Michael approached the supervisor’s manager and was told, “It will be worked out”.

A meeting was scheduled with the SDA Organiser, Michael and management as there were concerns that management were not co-operating. However, the meeting was postponed because Michael was taken off the Saturdays!

The next time Michael looked at the roster, he was flabbergasted because he discovered he was rostered back on Saturdays again.

In the end, the SDA’s position was that Michael had strong rights contained within the roster clause in his Enterprise Agreement. Michael also acted reasonably and offered to work the Saturdays outside of the sporting season. Going forward, he will have to continue to communicate with his supervisor about his roster, and he is confident the union will continue to help him through the different levels of the Grievance Procedure.

The lessons

With 20/20 vision, it would have been far better for Michael to contact the union when he was originally moved from his dock position. After the Manager presented him with the problem,

Michael would have been best not to sign any documentation and to advise his Manager that he will invoke the Grievance Procedure and immediately contact the SDA for assistance.

The company offered Michael the roster ‘sweetener’ which might have originally sounded sweet but within a matter of weeks turned very sour. Michael was offered the ‘sweetener’ by the company but he would have been wise to contact his Shop Steward or ring the union office immediately. It would have saved him from so much unnecessary stress.

Regi says:
On a personal note, my organising experience has taught me that when members are confronted with an issue such as Michael, they need to take a deep breath. Collect as much information as possible, speak to their trained SDA Shop Steward and seek a meeting with management as soon as possible.

Importantly, DO NOT SIGN ANYTHING. Most problems tend to be sorted out at workplace level but if they can’t be resolved, call for reinforcements. After all, the union office is only a phone call or an email away!