Union Briefs

Senate to investigate SDA deals

The giant Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association (SDA) will be subject to a parliamentary inquiry over wage deals that have cost workers hundreds of millions of dollars.

The Senate inquiry, initiated by Nick Xenophon and backed by the Greens, will examine claims that workers at retailers such as McDonald's, KFC and Coles are paid penalty rates under their SDA-negotiated enterprise agreements that are lower than the industry award.

The inquiry will also examine the better-off-overall test and whether the Fair Work Act needs to be changed to protect these workers.

Labor’s penalty rates amendment fails

Labor moved an amendment to a government bill on June 20, which would have overruled the decision by the Fair Work Commission to reduce weekend and public holiday rates for 700,000 workers in the hospitality, pharmacy, retail and fast food industries.

Under the proposed changes, the Fair Work Commission would no longer have the power to reduce penalty rates in modern awards.

It would also prevent unions from bargaining away penalty rates.

The bill was supported by the Greens’ Adam Bandt, the Nick Xenophon Team’s Rebekah Sharkie and the Nationals’ George Christensen, but lost 73–72.

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