The Good News and the Bad News

The Fair Work Commission (the Commission) has awarded a 3% wage increase for all wage rates in awards. It will apply from the first pay period on or after 1 July 2019.

The 3% wage increase is not big enough and it is not what the SDA and other unions argued for.

But it is better than what employers were prepared to agree to.

Retail employers argued for a maximum increase of no more than 1.8%. It is better than the increase in the Consumer Price Index in Australia, which is currently 1.3% for the year. It is better than the current average Australian wage increase of 2.3% for the year.

How Are Wage Rates In Awards Increased?

Many people wrongly think this wage increase is given by ‘the Government’.

What happens is that unions do surveys of their members to find out how much they think the annual wage increase should be.

The SDA surveyed our members in February and March. You had a say in the union case for a wage increase this year.

This information is then provided to the combined trade union body — the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU).

The ACTU looks at this information on union members’ views and decides on what it will argue for as a wage increase.

Our National Secretary Gerard Dwyer is the Senior Vice President of the ACTU, and is a key decision maker in this process.

The trade unions make a combined claim in the Fair Work Commission and argue the case for a wage increase for workers in Australia.

The employers traditionally oppose a decent wage increase, and argue for a minimal wage increase — or for no increase at all.

So the 3% wage increase this year does not come from the Government. It does not come from employers. It comes from the hard work of the SDA and other unions.

Extra Good News

Meanwhile, the SDA continues its hard work of arguing for improvements in wages and conditions for SDA members.

As a result of a case run by the SDA, casuals in the retail industry will receive a 5% increase in their penalty rates after 6pm from Monday to Friday, and all day on Saturday from 1 July this year.

Your Membership Delivers

The 3% pay increase and the improvement in casual rates are thanks to your support and Union membership, which allows the SDA to continue our work to push for pay rises.

As the cost of everything else continues to rise, we understand how important this pay increase is.

Unions are the only ones advocating for your wages to go up, and your membership means we remain a strong voice in the case for better wages.

Bad News – Penalty Rates Cut

The bad news is that as wage rates are going up, Sunday penalty rates are being cut.

The SDA argued strongly for the best possible Sunday penalty rates in our Awards in 2008 and won.

Between 2010 and 2014, the Commission phased in a penalty rate of double time on Sundays in retail, and time and a half in fast food.

We have been under a constant and massive attack by the employers ever since.

The employers attacked the Sunday penalty rate in 2012. The SDA fought to defend it. The Labor Government of the time supported us.

The Commission rejected the employer case.

The employers attacked us again in 2014. Again the SDA fought to defend it. This time there was no Labor Government to support us.

Unfortunately, the Commission gave in to the constant employer attacks and the hostile political environment, and cut penalty rates.

The Sunday penalty rate cut is being phased in. There is another big cut in the penalty rate due on 1 July this year. The retail Sunday rate will be cut by 15% for permanents and 10% for casuals. The fast food Sunday rate will be cut by 10%.

This is a cut that retail and fast food workers cannot afford and do not deserve.

Scott Morrison and the Liberal Party voted for these cuts in penalty rates eight times in the Federal Parliament when the Labor Party tried to reverse them.

The Labor Party promised to legislate to reverse the penalty rates cuts if it was elected to Government on 18 May.

But with the return of Scott Morrison and the Liberal Party, our members will suffer cuts in penalty rates on 1 July this year and 1 July next year.

If you are angry about these cuts in penalty rates, ask your friends and workmates to join the Union so that we can grow and strengthen the union movement. The bigger the union movement, the better we can advance the wages and conditions of workers in Australia.