Australian retail union reportedly signs another wage-cutting deal with Woolworths
27 December 2017
According to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald this month, the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association (SDA), a union that covers retail employees, has signed another regressive enterprise agreement with Woolworths, one of Australia’s two major supermarket chains.
While the company and the trade union have sought to keep the contents of the deal secret, it appears to slash wages for 400 low-paid warehouse workers across the country. This would make it the latest in a series of wage-cutting agreements between the SDA and supermarket giants, such as Woolworths and Coles.
The deal was reportedly struck on December 8. It covers workers who will be employed in four “dark stores”—warehouses that stock Woolworths’ content that can be bought online, across the country.
The Sydney Morning Herald claimed that Fair Work Commission (FWC) deputy president John Koviac, who presided over the signing of the deal this month, approved a request by Woolworths that the details of the agreement, including wage rates, be regarded as “commercial-in-confidence.”
The FWC is the pro-business industrial tribunal, set up by the last federal Labor government, with the support of the unions. Since then, it has been the forum for company-union collaboration in the destruction of jobs, wages and working conditions.
A University of Adelaide law professor, Andrew Stewart, quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald, described Koviac’s ruling as “extraordinary.” FWC legislation mandated that the details of an agreement be made public. “Clearly that includes the wage rates in the agreement,” Stewart stated.
According to figures cited in the article, workers in…