Unions and supermarkets striking deals to undermine workers’ wages and conditions?

An article by Ben Schneiders and Royce Millar in the Sydney Morning Herald (24 May 2015) argues that low-paid workers in Australian supermarkets will have their wages and conditions undermined if a new agreement struck between their employers and the shop assistants’ union — the Shop, Distributive & Allied Employees (SDA) — goes ahead. The articles paints a disturbing picture of workers’ interests being sidelined by the union’s own efforts to maintain their political power base, a power base built on their strong union membership.

From the article:

“It comes after a recent Fairfax investigation uncovered that the SDA pays major retailers including Coles and Woolworths up to $5 million a year in commissions for payroll deductions.

The payments help maintain its large membership and influence in Labor where the conservative SDA plays a significant role in social policy debates such as same-sex marriage.

The Coles agreement comes amid mounting labour movement concern about deteriorating workplace standards in Australia notably including in food processing linked to the supermarket giants, and graphically highlighted by ABC Four Corners‘ expose this month of the mistreatment of foreign workers.”

Read the article : Coles workers worse off under deal with shoppies union

Photo: Pedro Veneroso

Photo: Pedro Veneroso