Don't give up - Join the AMIEU

I am a meat worker at Woolworths. I want all supermarket workers to hear my story, and realise that they no longer have to put up with the incompetence and inaction from the bosses and the SDA.

My story is nothing out of the ordinary. I am a typical young person who has worked at Coles for 4 years and now at Woolworths for over 3 years to support myself alongside my studies. I work hard, and I take pride in the work that I do. I enjoy helping customers and sharing my knowledge of food and fresh meat. It is workers like myself that ensure that people can buy fresh food to put on their tables for dinner each night.

Unfortunately my experiences in the workplace have been a far cry from what hard-working supermarket workers deserve. I am not just talking about the treatment from the bosses, but also the lack of enthusiasm the SDA has shown in dealing with the struggles we face each day in our workplaces.

The majority of supermarket workers who decide to join a union are members of the SDA. Most workers understand that the most effective way to ensure we have fair conditions and rights at work is to be a member of a union. However the experiences myself and thousands of others have had with the SDA suggests otherwise.

When I first started working in Coles, and later when I worked at Woolworths, I was a member of the SDA. On a number of occasions, I realised that my boss was underpaying me. Each time I would call up the SDA, expecting them to sort the issue out. Quite often when I called up the SDA, I would be put on hold, or told that somebody would get back to me. Sound familiar? The SDA are notoriously difficult to get in contact with.

Ultimately, the issues went unresolved. On the rare occasion that I managed to get through to someone, I was assured that they would get back to me on the issue. More often than not, I would not hear back from them. The SDA claims to be the largest union in Australia, and would have an abundance of resources at their disposal. However in the 3 years I have been working at Woolworths, I never saw our local organiser pay a visit to our store.

On one occasion, a member of the SDA executive visited our store to pose for photos with our Store Manager out the front of the store, but he didn’t even bother to come inside to say hello to his members!

DON’T LOSE HOPE, THERE IS AN ALTERNATIVE!

I heard about the AMIEU earlier this year. When I read that the SDA negotiated an EBA with Coles that saw meat workers worse off, and penalty rates stripped, I felt sick in the stomach.

Here we are, earning a very modest wage, handing over our hard earned money to an organisation that sold us out! They failed to improve our situation, they were unwilling to resolve pay disputes with our bosses. You have to ask yourself, what is the point in paying union fees each week to the SDA? At this point I ripped up my SDA membership, joined the AMIEU, and I have never looked back since.

The first contact I made with the AMIEU, I was talking to a real person who genuinely cared about my situation. I was instantly put in contact with Jason, an organiser for supermarket workers in my area. After a couple of phone discussions, he arranged to meet with my boss. He was calm and reasonable, but most importantly he was on my side looking out for my interests.

In the 3 years as a member of the SDA at Woolworths, they achieved nothing with my issues of being underpaid.

Within 2 weeks of being in contact with the AMIEU, I received a message from the head of HR at Woolworths apologising for how they treated me, stating that they will back pay me on EVERY issue we raised!

All supermarket workers who handle meat in any way can be a member of the AMIEU, it’s not just only for butchers.

Now that you have read my story, I want you to ask yourself ‘why am I paying union fees to the SDA, what have they done for me?’

You have two options, you can join the union that represents the interests of Coles and Woolworths while ignoring its members, or you can join the union that fights hard for its members and is proven to achieve results.