Senate debates

Wednesday, 14 November 2018


No-one Deserves A Serve Campaign, Workplace Relations

7:26 pm

Photo of Chris KetterChris Ketter (Queensland, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I'm a strong supporter of the trade union movement, and tonight I rise to lend my support to the national No-one Deserves a Serve campaign being run by my union, the SDA. No-one Deserves a Serve is designed to educate consumers and reinforce the right of workers to do their job without fear of abuse or violence in the workplace. This is something that most of us take for granted in our jobs, but, unfortunately, for many workers, particularly those in the retail and fast food sector, regular abuse is a reality. With only six weeks until Christmas, many of us will soon be heading out to do Christmas or holiday shopping. It's probably going be hot. It could take ages to find a car park. The kids might be clamouring for this new toy or that new video game. Some people might just have had a bad day. Whatever the circumstances, I implore shoppers to keep calm and always be respectful to the staff who are serving you, whether it's in the supermarket, the department store, the food court or the drive-through, because no-one deserves a serve.

I thank the SDA, particularly the national secretary, Gerard Dwyer, and the national assistant secretary, Julia Fox, for organising a briefing for politicians in Canberra during the last sitting week. I particularly want to thank the courageous workers from the ACT area who told us their stories. I will highlight a couple of the stories that workers have told people through this campaign on the SDA's website. Some of the comments that workers are making are very disturbing. People are saying: 'We get yelled at and abused all the time.' Another quote was: 'Screaming, yelling, swearing, hands being thrown around, invading personal space and provocative behaviour when in an even more vulnerable position such as door-greeter. I've been a victim of serious abuse and threatening behaviour when things were thrown at me and security management had to become involved.' Somebody else said: 'I've had customers throw products at me for simple things like product is out of stock.' Somebody else made the comment: 'Once a team member was held up with a syringe.' Another comment was: 'The customers swear at you when they don't get their way.' Somebody else said: 'I have been spat at. I've had a hot roast chicken and a bag of salad thrown at me.' Finally: 'I've been spat on during a theft incident. I've had people threaten to harm me and my staff after we refused service due to intoxication.' These stories are horrifying. No-one deserves to go to work worrying about whether they will be yelled at or have things thrown at them during their shift. It is simply un-Australian. Let's not forget that these are the same workers who will be working for less money during the public holidays this Christmas. I commend the SDA for this important campaign. This is the type of campaign that demonstrates the vital role that unions play in our society.

I will acknowledge another issue that is a major win for the SDA. In September the SDA won a very long running case in the Fair Work Commission that will see penalty rates increase for 350,000 casual retail workers working on Saturdays and evening work. The impact of that decision takes place from the beginning of this month. So casuals working in the retail industry and dependent on the general retail industry award to determine their conditions of employment will start to see some increases in their pay packets.

This case was lodged back in 2015. We know how much effort and work goes into these applications and the arguments that have to occur against opposition from employer groups, and that happened on this occasion. I want to make the point that the work the union did in securing this significant win for 350,000 retail workers not only benefits union members who pay their union fees to the SDA union but also benefits many people who are not members of the union and who work in the retail industry. This illustrates the important role of unions and the benefit they provide to our society.

The pay increases for casuals will be phased in over the next three years, to 2020. It's a great win for the SDA. Once again, it shows the importance of people joining their union to fight for wage increases and for working conditions for Australian workers. We know that Australians need a pay rise, not a pay cut, and unions are there to help people get a pay rise.