You can’t get blood out of a stone!

December 14, 2020 Know Your Rights Our Resources

by Tony Stapleton, SDA Organiser

Pressure in the retail industry is no different to other industries. This pressure results from senior management always wanting more, more, more! Public companies report sales growth of 10% and the stock market demands 15%. Companies retrench hundreds of workers and the companies’ share prices increase dramatically. Yes, the world’s gone mad!

I commenced work with the SDA in 1997 and noticed the pressure which was placed on employees in the stores. Recently, I have noticed this pressure increasing further because store management are not replacing staff and not increasing staffing levels even when there is an increase in sales. As a result, members are expected to work harder and faster even though they were already at breaking point.

Last time I looked, “YOU CAN’T GET BLOOD OUT OF A STONE”.

Staffing levels

In some stores there has been increasing pressure to give up some rights so that tasks can be completed.

I’m a big fan of a good work ethic but if members give up their rights (e.g., breaks, paid time, sick leave, workers’ compensation…) the company will not be driven to change their staffing levels.
Things must change in these workplaces and must change today.

Your rights are not negotiable!

Individual store and department managers must observe the Enterprise Agreement or Award which operates in every workplace. Head offices will not tolerate this behaviour!

Members should be aware of the potential traps which might occur in their workplace. Some of these traps are:

  • Tea breaks being cancelled because there is not enough staff to cover the breaks.
  • Members made to feel guilty when they call in sick or go home sick. This could eventually result in the member becoming more ill because they don’t want to let their co-workers down and/or they don’t want to hear the ‘guilt trip’ spiel from their manager.
  • Members working for nothing. Sometimes, a member might feel it would be easier to come in early and not clock on or stay back a half hour to get the work finished.
  • Not claiming for workers’ compensation and at best, claiming sick leave instead.

The only winners in this scenario are the store management who might receive increased bonuses if they can cut wages.

What to do…

  1. If you are unsure of your entitlements, speak to your Shop Steward and find out about your rights.
  2. Take pride in your work, but be reasonable. If you’re not given enough time or help to get work done, then it’s not your fault.
  3. Disengage from the pressures which head offices place upon from their store management. It has got nothing to do with you.
  4. If customers leave your store due to understaffing, it is not your fault.
  5. If customers complain about the staffing levels, direct them to report their complaints to store management.
  6. Do not be hard on yourself.
  7. Open up the communication lines with your manager.
  8. Make a note of anything important in your diary.
  9. Do not feel guilty!

If you require any assistance with these matters, please contact your Shop Steward or phone/email the union office.