Despite the SDA having the biggest turnout of its members voting on an enterprise agreement in as long as we can recall (courtesy of gentle reminders by store managers who were keen to ensure that SDA members and other workers in the store had the opportunity to express their ‘genuine views’ whilst being stood over by the manager), and having the Coles enterprise agreement voted up, we have still been busy working in the background.
Many of you will have seen the press coverage we got when we publicly put the Fair Work Commission under pressure to scrutinise the agreement properly.
Many of you will have seen that the agreement did in fact fail the Better Off Overall Test, (meaning that it pays less than the award) showing how pathetic the negotiations and the agreement really are.
And then of course the Commission accepted some undertakings from Coles that they would apply the award rates for such things as casual rates and junior loadings, leading to major increases in wages in those roles.
We were not satisfied with these undertakings and suggest that this is an abuse of process. Where an agreement is found to be less than the award but then the Commission accepts some last minute wrangling to increase rates outside of the negotiation process just so that the agreement can be ratified, we say this is simply wrong. The agreement should have been rejected.
As it happens, an individual SDA member lawyered up and is challenging the validity of the agreement via an appeal against the decision of the Commission which certified the agreement. The AMIEU has supported his appeal and also lodged one of our own on behalf of all meatworkers covered under this treacherous document.
This week we were both granted permission to appeal and the matter will now continue to a hearing to determine whether or not the agreement should have been registered. We will keep you up to date with progress as it happens.