We’ve heard of David & Goliath-style battles in the past, but this one just about puts them all in the shit.
A student from Brisbane has taken one half of the nation’s megalithic supermarket duopoly, as well as the exceedingly powerful union that looks after its workers, and knocked them both the fuck out.
Duncan Hart, clearly the name of a fearless ledge, took both Coles and the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association (better known to most of y’all as the SDA) to the Fair Work Commission over an enterprise bargaining agreement that he believed to be manifestly unfair, and left workers worse off than the agreement that preceded it.
The Coles EBA, which covers the wages and working conditions of some 77,000 employees, and was implemented in July of last year, was ruled by the Commission to not satisfy the Better Off Overall Test, or the BOOT.
The ruling, handed down by the Commission today, stated that under the conditions specified by the current EBA, workers are worse off than they would be under the current award rates. Therefore, the EBA is invalid.
Hart successfully argued that the agreement was substantially unfair, in that it mandated a base pay rise for all supermarket workers, but cut penalty rates for weekends and nights. Hart also argued that Coles and SDA overstated the value of fringe benefits afforded to workers.
Coles argued that these associated benefits (which included blood donor leave, emergency services leave, and an extra five minutes of meal time for employees working shifts greater than four hours in length) outweighed any wage losses for workers in regards to lowered or frozen penalty rates.
The Commission smacked that talk down, siding with Hart and his argument that the benefits are unequal to the losses.
“Overall we consider the provisions in the agreement to be beneficial for employees but the level of benefit is not large.”
“We are not satisfied that a consideration of all benefits and detriments under the agreement results in each employee and each prospective employee being better off overall under the agreement compared to the award.”
“It follows that we are not satisfied that the agreement passes the BOOT.”
The BOOT asserts that any EBA must leave workers better off than the industry award for the agreement to be valid.
As a result of the ruling, Coles now have 10 days to either remedy the failings of the EBA, or respond to the Commission’s ruling. It’s a massive call in that this could force Coles and the SDA to renegotiate their entire pay structure and working conditions.
All because one absolute ledge saw something that stank and decided to do something about it.
What an absolute bloody champion. Hell yes to you, Duncan Hart.
Source: ABC News.
Photo: Ian Waldie/Getty.