UNITE was set up 10 years ago in Victoria as a small union covering workers in the fast food and retail sectors. We specifically focused our efforts on workplaces that were not already organised by the existing Shop, Distributive & Allied Employees Association (SDA).
Over the years we have had some modest successes, including uncovering the half pay scam at 7-Eleven and helping to win hundreds of thousands of dollars for underpaid workers in a wide variety of stores.
UNITE Secretary Anthony Main said: “UNITE started off with a non-confrontational approach towards the SDA. We didn’t initially set out to become a direct rival. We focused on smaller shops where the SDA was not established.
“With the revelations that the SDA has played a role in ripping off hundreds of thousands of workers that situation has now changed.
“We think it’s now time to take on the SDA more directly. While not ignoring the small shops, workers in places like Coles, McDonald’s and Woolworths, need to be offered a fighting alternative.
“UNITE members will be involved in the work of the new Retail and Fast Food Workers Union. We plan on bringing our experience and fighting approach to this new project.
“We will be encouraging our members to join the new union and our activists will be available to help out with campaigns.
“We see this as a very positive development and an extension of the struggle that we have been waging for the past 10 years.
“The fast food and retail giants in this country have been exploiting people for far too long. We want to do all we can to break the collusion between these big firms and the SDA.
“We hope that the broader union movement also gets behind this new project. If it is done right it could help to rejuvenate the worker’s movement as a whole.” Anthony said.