Aug 28, 2017

Addicted to cash: why Labor won’t dump the SDA

Labor is campaigning hard against organisations that want to undermine penalty rates -- but will quietly look the other way if you give it enough money.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

SDA president Joe de Bruyn

Restoring penalty rates cut by the Fair Work Commission is a key Labor commitment under Bill Shorten. Within 100 days of being elected, he says, Labor will restore penalty rates for workers who are the victims of the Fair Work Commission-employer attack on their incomes.

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8 thoughts on “Addicted to cash: why Labor won’t dump the SDA

  1. The Curmudgeon

    Would appreciate any evidence by the SDA that its leadership’s conservative views (no longer just social, clearly economic too) are shared by the membership. One does not have to revert to Mr Humphries stereotypes (“Are You Being Served”) to conclude that there is a substantial disconnect between the leaders (who end up in parliament on salaries they could not vaguely come near in real life) and the people they are supposed to represent. I am grateful that when in the workforce, I was a member of a non-ALP-affiliated union, which meant that the leadership was not wasting its time plotting and scheming on ALP matters and trying to propel talentless drones into parliament.

  2. Nudiefish

    The SDA is a disgrace and should be ejected out of the labour movement altogether, let alone being able to influence Labor policy.

    Wasn’t there a rival union being set up to – you know – do the job that a union should do for it’s members?

  3. Limited Through Mixed

    The Retail and Fast Food Workers Union was established in 2016 to take on the might of the SDA. I am not sure how successful it has been in obtaining members or getting a voice at the table.

  4. Tabot Retemt

    Some believe that diplomatic relations ultimately are best even with wandering brethren.

  5. N.A.F.

    What is the basis of this view, repeated without explanation in Crikey and elsewhere, that the SDA has sold out its members? Has it actually been demonstrated that workers under SDA deals are better off than those without? Comparing workers on SDA deals to those not on SDA deals suggests the contrary; a fortiori if we compare them to workers in other sectors (e.g. hospitality) or retail workers overseas.

    Award conditions are traded off all the time – it’s the whole point of enterprise bargaining. You take a lower weekend rate in exchange for a higher base rate, or whatever. Minds can reasonably differ about bargaining tactics or the merits of particular agreements. But the fact that an enterprise agreement has lower penalty rates that the award is not proof that members have been betrayed.

    The SDA’s line on social issues, of course, is a whole other story.

    1. Nudiefish

      Trading off benefits that only favour the business is not their job. Most retail workers operate outside standard hours. Giving them a tiny hourly increase is a sham.

  6. Dennis Pratt

    A union is a membership association. It is not itself an organisation. The membership association then creates an organisation of paid employees to represent the members’ interests.

    In Australia, the fact that there can be left wing unions (eg CFMEU) and right wing unions (eg SDA) shows to what extent the organisations that are supposed to represent the interests of the membership association are instead representing the political, career and personal interests of the paid employees.

    It’s no wonder union membership is declining so rapidly.

  7. AR

    The SDA is not alone in trading off members interests for the benefit of apparatchiks climbing the greasy ladder to the soft leather benches.

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