Extra effect of shop union deal with Coles and Woolworths

Reports that the Shop, Distributive & Allied Employees Association (SDA) pays major supermarkets such as Coles and Woolworths up to $5 million a year in commissions that help maintain its large membership were not a surprise for independent retailer association Master Grocers Australia/Liquor Retailers Australia.

The ALP’s largest union affiliate, the SDA, was investigated by Fairfax Media over its political, industrial and social clout and its close relationship with employers.

The SDA, Australia’s biggest private-sector union, makes payments to retailers as ‘commission’ for the employers deducting union fees from members’ pay packets.

The SDA union’s power is based on numbers in the union movement, the ALP and through 10 to 12 federal MPs within its orbit of influence, Fairfax said.

The union’s 200,000-plus membership includes supermarket, department store, fast-food staff, and warehouse workers.

CEO of the Master Grocers Australia/Liquor Retailers Australia Jos De Bruin said that Coles and Woolworths facilitate a system to collect retail worker’s union member’s fees on behalf of the SDA that operates under an almost compulsory system.

?oles and Woolworths appear to pander to the SDA; they are two large conglomerates that pay for the SDA’s existence who won’t take no for an answer when it comes to large supermarket developments,?he said.

Mr de Bruin said that one of the worst examples of too much development by the two supermarket majors is in Bundaberg in Queensland, where independent retailers are being driven out of existence.

Late last year, Bundaberg Regional Council approved two new shopping complexes that will contain supermarkets such as Aldi and Coles, and a Masters (Woolworths) hardware store that will give the regional city at least nine supermarket-backed shopping centres.

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