Some workers report managers and SDA officials have misrepresented the rights of RAFFWU and our members. This summary sets out some of the key union rights that RAFFWU and our members have.
RAFFWU IS A GENUINE FIGHTING UNION
When workers come together and form a group to improve their working conditions they are forming a union.
The Fair Work Act defines “industrial association” as including:
an association of employees, or independent contractors, or both (whether formed formally or informally), a purpose of which is the protection and promotion of their interests in matters concerning their employment, or their interests as independent contractors (as the case may be)
RAFFWU is an industrial association and a union. RAFFWU is not an “Employee Organisation” registered under Fair Work legislation and we do not hold ourself out as being such an organisation. We may apply to be registered in the future. However, such registration does not define who is or is not a union. A number of other unions have chosen not to become registered.
There are some rights that only attach to Employee Organisations. Most relevantly for RAFFWU, it is only officials of registered employee organisations that can have what is called a “Right of Entry” which includes providing an employer 24 hours’ notice of entry to a work site to have discussions with workers about the union during breaks.
However, workers can choose to meet RAFFWU representatives during breaks, before and after shifts, and at other times, outside the workplace. For example, workers have their break at a local café or have lunch in an outside area. When these areas are not on the premises of the employer we can meet and talk about the union. We can also meet on the premises where an employer agrees. RAFFWU and Coles Supermarkets have agreed on arrangements to facilitate RAFFWU representatives speaking to Coles workers during their breaks in store tea rooms.
Employee Organisations can also prosecute employers for breaches of enterprise agreements and Modern Awards in the courts. Instead we support our members to undertake such actions where necessary. A good example is in the Bakers Delight case of workers in Doncaster East. You can read the court outcome here. In that case, SDA refused to even turn up. By supporting our members they were not only able to win the case, but their legal fees were covered. We also represent our members in disputes under dispute procedures which can include before tribunals. We can prosecute employers for a range of unlawful activities in the courts, including for deliberately or recklessly misrepresenting the workplace rights of members.
RAFFWU is registered as an Australian registered body and as an incorporated association. We have a professional board of retail and fast food workers. Our rules provide for the democratic election of union leaders. We have appointed qualified auditors. More information about our governance arrangements, including links to our rules and policies, can be found here: http://www.raffwu.org.au/governance_fina
RAFFWU REPRESENTS AND SUPPORTS ITS MEMBERS
RAFFWU represents and/or supports its members in all workplaces. Just like any other union, the extent to which we can represent members depends on the workplace instruments which apply. Members can also appoint us to represent or support them during consultation over major changes, roster changes, disciplinary processes and other processes under workplace instruments.
Members at major employers including Coles, Woolworths, McDonald’s and many others have a right to be represented and supported by a representative of their choice – including RAFFWU.
Like most unions, we do not offer members legal advice. We are not a law firm and do not employ lawyers to provide legal advice to members. From time to time we obtain legal advice for the union from law firms. Any person, whether a member or not, should contact a law firm if they need to obtain legal advice.
We provide members industrial advice and industrial support which is not legal advice. Like all unions, the level of advice and support will be determined by the Union.
RAFFWU BARGAINS FOR MEMBERS
RAFFWU bargains for its members that appoint us as their bargaining representative. In 2017 we were heavily involved in negotiations with Coles and in 2018 we are involved in major negotiations at Woolworths, Kmart and Bunnings. We are also involved in other negotiations where members appoint us as their bargaining representative.
All the rights afforded bargaining representatives are able to be pursued by RAFFWU including:
- Participating in negotiating meetings;
- Making claims and having responses from employers;
- Obtaining relevant information in a timely manner;
- Requiring employers to give genuine consideration to our proposals and reasons for responses to our proposals;
- Not having other bargaining representatives act capriciously or unfairly;
- Obtaining a majority support determination where an employer refuses to bargain;
- Being consulted over any proposed undertaking should the Fair Work Commission be concerned an agreement does not meet the better off overall test;
- Good faith bargaining orders where an employer breaches the good faith bargaining requirements; and
- Applying for a protected action ballot order.
RAFFWU IS ITS MEMBERS
As a genuine union, we are our members. RAFFWU members actively grow their union, including by:
- becoming members of the union;
- become involved in establishing the union;
- organising or promoting activities of the union;
- encouraging, and participating in, activities organised or promoted by the union;
- representing or advancing the views, claims or interests of the union; and
- seeking to be represented by the union.
All of these activities are called “industrial activity” and all our members are protected from adverse action by anyone for participating in these activities.
YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO JOIN A UNION OF YOUR CHOICE AND TO APPOINT A BARGAINING REPRESENTATIVE
It is against the law for a person to knowingly or recklessly misrepresent to you that you are obliged to not join RAFFWU, or that you must remain a member of SDA.
It is against the law for a person to knowingly or recklessly misrepresent the right of a worker to appoint RAFFWU as their bargaining representative.
It is against the law for a person to knowingly or recklessly misrepresent the right of a worker to appoint a representative under an Award or Enterprise Agreement.
If a manager, HR officer or SDA official tells you that you cannot join RAFFWU or have RAFFWU as your representative, you should make notes about the conversation including:
- When and where it occurred;
- What you were told;
- Who spoke to you and who else may have heard; and
- Whether any documents (such as emails, flyers, notes, policies) were given to you.
You should send these notes to RAFFWU and discuss with us what can be done.
Similarly, if a manager, HR officer or SDA official tells you that there is some particular effect of appointing RAFFWU as your bargaining representative – other than having a genuine fighting union represent you in bargaining – please also make notes and contact RAFFWU.