December 14, 2020 Know Your Rights Our Resources

By Liz Berry, SDA Organiser

Is this your first job? Are you a new employee?

Whether you are a high school casual or working full-time you have the same rights as all other employees.
As a member of the Union:

  • You have the full protection of the Union;
  • You will be represented in negotiations with your employer including Enterprise Agreement negotiations and problem solving;
  • You are provided with extensive benefits and discounts including SDA textbook scholarships and the SDA’s FREE Accident Insurance Policy;
  • Your SDA membership allows you to pursue your rights without fear of loss of employment.

Working for You

Work that has occurred in the past has contributed to the winning of current rates of pay, breaks, holiday pay and casual loadings.

All these benefits are available to all SDA members, new or old; so if you, as a new member have any questions or queries please speak to your workplace SDA Shop Steward or call the union office.

Don’t put up with abuse!

The SDA is the largest single union in Australia with a large percentage aged between 15 and 20. Today’s young people are vibrant, enthusiastic, intelligent and communicative, but some are shy and not as forthcoming as others. As an SDA Organiser, I love visiting stores and interacting with my younger members. It was therefore very distressing when I was approached by two very brave young members on behalf of themselves and another younger work mate. This young work mate was shy and felt powerless when dealing with an aggressive department manager who verbally abused and used expletives to demean everyone in his department.

This manager would launch into an aggressive verbal assault to ‘urge’ his employees to work harder and faster to achieve his budget. He threatened staff with disciplinary action on a daily basis, and staff members hated coming to work knowing they would be yelled at and degraded at work. Sick leave shot through the roof as team members felt pressured and stressed and some members admitted to crying before and after work. As you can imagine, staff morale dropped to an all-time low.

So cruel

But the worst abuse was given to the youngest and most vulnerable employees. This young person saw the department manager as an authority figure and therefore someone who’s ‘allowed to speak down to you and order you around’, so never officially complained. This young member not only received verbal abuse but even suffered physical abuse on several occasions. Fortunately, his teammates overcame their fear after suffering months of abuse and came to see me. We followed the grievance procedure and, needless to say, the company acted immediately and removed the cowardly bully from the workplace.

Bullies must be stopped!

I would like to encourage all SDA members to continue to treat each other with respect and kindness and be supportive of those fellow members who are not as outgoing as others. Do not put up with any form of abuse. We all have the right to feel safe in the workplace and should enjoy our working environment. The SDA will not stand for any kind of physical or verbal abuse and will represent all our members to make sure it doesn’t continue to happen.

Speak with your Shop Steward, Organiser or call the SDA if you have any further enquiries – we’re here to help.

Seek assistance.

If you are facing any workplace issues such as this, do not be afraid to alert the SDA for any help in claiming what is rightfully yours. The SDA is here for its members, and we’re happy to help in any way we can.

Spread the word.

With positive outcomes and good stories such as this, please let your fellow employees know of these victories so that they will consider becoming a member of the SDA as well. The more members we have, the stronger we will be.