It’s been quite the year.
We have faced enormous challenges as a country, particularly in Victoria.
COVID-19 changed the way we live and work. It smashed our economy, and took away our ability to see friends and family. It has taken hundreds of lives.
But we have got through it. By standing together, united and strong, we have overcome this year and this virus.
Our members should be especially proud. So many retail, fast food and warehousing workers have worked through the pandemic. Not only have our members persevered through tough working conditions, but in doing so they have played an essential role in keeping Australia going, even as many other industries ground to a halt.
You have always been essential – but this has never been more obvious than it is now.
We should be proud of what we have achieved together as a union. If you haven't joined yet, you can sign up online here: sdavic.org/join.
We successfully advocated for safer conditions in our industries. We’ve pushed for plexiglass screens and the provision of alcohol-based hand sanitiser, providing bags free of charge to avoid handling customer bags, and ramped up our No One Deserves A Serve campaign against customer abuse and violence while calling for an increased police presence in shopping centres.
We were in discussions with state and federal governments about how to keep workers safe. Where employers did not do the right thing, we pushed back. Nothing is more important than your safety at work.
Our members deserved more than just “thank you” for their hard work. Particularly at the major supermarkets that have made a lot of money, it was important that workers received financial recognition for the essential work they continued to do.
We pushed for an essential service payment for all our members who worked through the pandemic. We won a payment from many major employers – payments that would not have been made if not for the tens of thousands of SDA members and community supporters who signed up to our campaign.
We made detailed submissions calling for a 4% pay rise in the Annual Wage Review, but the Fair Work Commission handed down a 1.75% increase. While this was disappointing, it was better than the 0% increase advocated for by some employers.
The worst part about this decision was that it delayed the increase for retail workers until February 2021 – freezing the wages of so many of our members who were continuing to work in tough conditions.
Since this decision, SDA members have been campaigning for employers to pass on an immediate pay increase to essential workers. Our campaign has been successful at Woolworths, Coles, Big W, Bunnings, Target, David Jones, Dan Murphy’s and BWS. Again, we have only been able to achieve this because tens of thousands of members supported our campaign.
This is the most important lesson of 2020. Whether it’s as a Victorian community, or as a union, we have demonstrated that we can do great things if we stand together.
Imagine what we could achieve next year if even more workers stood with us. If you haven't joined yet, it's easy to do so here: sdavic.org/join.
Thank you to all our members who stood together, united and strong this year. You have demonstrated great resilience and great strength.
While we are all hoping that 2021 is an easier year, we should be confident in our ability to overcome any challenges we may face.