Peter Strong calls for ACTU to expel the SDA following after leaving Coles worker’s worse-off


The Council of Small Business of Australia (COSBOA) is calling for the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) to expel the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association (SDA) as a member.

Duncan Hart from Brisbane claimed the enterprise bargaining agreement (EBA) between Coles and his union, the SDA, left thousands of workers worse-off than they would be under the award, and was therefore invalid.

In a decision handed down on Tuesday, the Fair Work Commission ruled that the Coles enterprise bargaining agreement, which covers some 77,000 employees, failed the better off overall test (BOOT).

The Secretary of ACTU stated that the findings by the Fair Work Commission show the system works, but Peter Strong, CEO of COSBOA, disagrees saying that the fact this has been occurring for at least six years shows a systemic failure.

“ACTU need to expel the SDA from their membership. The SDA still has on its website a call to arms for people to fight against lower penalty rates, while they have up to 100 agreements with the biggest businesses in Australia to actually have lower penalty rates, and in some situations remove them altogether. The hypocrisy and duplicity of the SDA is breathtaking,” said Strong.

COSBOA has called on the Fair Work Commission to deregister the SDA due to their proven treachery.

“How did so many illegitimate enterprise agreements get approved by the Fair Work Commission? The Australian Labor Party (ALP), the Greens and others have campaigns against high penalty rates falsely influenced by a campaign run by the SDA. A campaign that misrepresented the facts and forced thousands of workers into low paid jobs, while forcing many small businesses to close,” said Strong.

Strong also called on the ALP to admit that small business has been disadvantaged by this campaign, while big businesses have benefited.

“How can the ALP support a campaign that in the end targeted the likes of newsagents, coffee shops, bookshops, pharmacies, gift shops and small restaurants?” he asked.

“These businesses are not just the backbone of the economy but also of our culture. In the end, the only businesses that paid double time on a Sundaywere small businesses. All the big businesses had a deal with the SDA that paid under award rates.”

COSBOA fully backs changes to competition regulations to stop unethical practice from organisations like Wesfarmers (who own Coles) and the SDA from being created. COSBOA recommends The Effects Test in section 46 and even stronger measures are needed.

The Labor Party and The Greens need to stop listening to the SDA, argued Strong, and start listening to the real defenders of workers’ rights and provider of jobs – small business people.

“The union movement cannot sweep this activity under the carpet.  If they really care for workers, then their actions need to show this. At the moment there appears to be a difference,” concluded Strong.

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