The broken, unfair deal cooked up between the corporate-loving SDA and Coles has officially been killed, with Coles refusing the Fair Work Commission’s request to alter it so that no worker would be worse off.
This massive win for workers will see tens of thousands of young Coles employees, predominantly those who work the high penalty-rate shifts that nobody else wants such as nights and weekends, awarded the large amounts in back pay that they would have earned in the first place if Coles and the SDA hadn’t worked together to take them away.
This victory is an unequivocal vindication of what the Meat Workers Union has been saying since 2013 when we first began to raise concerns about the SDA’s dangerous new assault on workers. We applaud young Coles worker Duncan Hart who took a stand against this underhanded strategy and we’re extremely proud to have helped him deal the killing blow.
The SDA has similar cosy deals in place at McDonalds and Woolworths, both of which are using the same strategy of tricking workers by slightly raising their base rate but slashing their penalty rates. All employers should now be taking note of the decision by the Fair Work Commission, which sets a precedent for anybody attempting the same dirty and underhanded tactic — a tactic which FairFax media estimates saves McDonalds $50 million each year in wages.
In a notice to their members outlining the decision, the SDA condemned Coles unwillingness to improve the current deal while still refusing to acknowledge just how bad their deal was in the first place.
All the SDA was willing to admit was that “some workers” who work penalty-rate-heavy shifts “could” be disadvantaged — a far cry from the findings of the Fair Work Commission, who used the SDA’s own calculations to show that workers were going to lose thousands.
It’s time for the SDA to acknowledge some hard truths: They made a dodgy deal to keep Coles happy by driving wages down, and now they’re “disappointed” that Coles doesn’t want to budge? The SDA made their bed and they need to lie in it.
The Meat Workers Union will be stepping in to negotiate a newer and better agreement with Coles for our members who work in their stores. We will be holding Coles to account for their attempt to claw back wages from the pockets of their workforce, and we will defend the rights of workers everywhere to be properly compensated for the hours they keep and not thrown under the bus.
If your boss comes to you with a dodgy pay deal, or something doesn’t add up – join the AMIEU! Workers fighting together can make a difference.