Would You Like The Minimum Wage With That?

In keeping with Malcolm’s Turnbull’s desire that we should all stay ‘flexible’ in the new ‘agile’ economy, the SDA seems to be trying out a new ‘innovative’ tactic lately: rather than fighting for their members, they’ve decided to fight against them.

Explosive revelations were unearthed late last week showing that the SDA, which is supposed to represent the interests of retail workers in a world of corporate giants, has organised a cosy deal with McDonalds which saves the massive corporation $200 million by slashing wages across the board.

According to the report in the Sydney Morning Herald, the deal sees workers being paid thousands of dollars less than the minimum legal wage, with part-time workers losing up to $5,000 a year and casual workers losing around $2,000.

It’s the exact same strategy that the SDA used in their cosy deal with Coles — the deal that we’re currently fighting at the Fair Work Commission (get the details here). By slightly raising the overall hourly rate, the SDA claims that they’re  improving things for everyone… but what they give with one hand they take with the other, gutting (or entirely removing) penalty rates so that the actual result is workers losing out on thousands.

The McDonalds/SDA agreement, for example, contains no weekend penalty rates at all, and late-night rates only run at 10% from 1AM – 5AM. However, under the national fast-food industry award (which, by law, the McDonalds/SDA agreement is required to improve upon) penalty rates of 25 per cent apply on Saturday and 50 per cent on Sunday (at 75 per cent for casuals), as well as higher night shift loadings from 9pm to 5am.

Any reasonable person can look at the comparison and readily conclude that McDonalds and the SDA have cooked up an agreement that rips their workforce off.

You can see why McDonalds wouldn’t want to pay its workers these kind of benefits — after all, they’re a greedy, tax avoiding multinational mega-corporation! That’s what we expect from such things. But isn’t a union supposed to be trying to make more money for its workers, so that they can improve their lives? Isn’t that what unions, ultimately, do?

The hypocrisy of the SDA running a campaign called “Save Our Weekend” whilst quietly stripping away weekend penalty rates for their three largest workforces is nothing short of staggering, but what else can you expect from a union so dedicated to making bosses happy that even the viciously anti-worker Liberal government gives it the thumbs up?

We call on the SDA to do the right thing, back away from these atrocious deals, and try actually looking out for their members for once.