Battle on Many Fronts

by Michael Donovan


As I write this editorial, the issue of penalty rates is hotting up.

After a record lengthy case with an enormous amount of evidence presented, the Fair Work Commission handed down a decision cutting penalty rates for Sunday work and public holiday work.

These are cuts our members cannot afford and do not deserve.

It directly affects all SDA members covered by the awards in retail, pharmacy and fast food.

Over time, it threatens to lower the wage rates and the penalty rates of all SDA members under enterprise agreements.

The matter of penalty rates is being fought on many fronts simultaneously.


Phasing In

The SDA was required to put submissions to the Fair Work Commission as to how these cuts should be phased in.

The SDA has called for the decision to be set aside.

If it is not set aside, the SDA has called for a two-year delay in the decision, and then a phase in over five years.


Legal Challenge

After careful consideration and consultation with our barrister, the SDA has decided not to accept this Fair Work Commission decision.

The SDA will take legal action to challenge the decision in the Federal Court of Australia.

The other union affected in respect of the hospitality industry is United Voice, and it will also challenge the decision in the Federal Court of Australia.



In the meantime, the Labor Party has taken action in the Federal Parliament. It has introduced legislation to annul the penalty rates decision.

This has passed the Senate and is headed to the House of Representatives to be debated.

The pressure is on Malcolm Turnbull and the Liberal and National Parties to vote with the ALP to stop the penalty rate cuts.

The SDA is campaigning in various Federal electorates so that Members of Parliament know that this issue is important and they need to stand up for our members’ penalty rates.


Other Important Issues

While all this is going on, the SDA continues making submissions in the Fair Work Commission on other matters in awards on behalf of our members.

We are arguing for a day in lieu when a public holiday falls on a non-working day.

We are arguing for two hours of paid time off four times a year to donate blood.

These claims are facing strong opposition by employers.

The SDA continues working to ensure that in the future Christmas Day will be a public holiday when it falls on a Saturday or a Sunday.

The SDA continues to lobby for shift penalties to be paid on long service leave, and for long service leave to accrue during maternity leave, paid or unpaid.

We will keep you informed of progress on all these important matters.


This article was originally published in The Shop Assistant Journal - Winter 2017: Vol 81, Iss 2.