“So far behind the award, it is not funny” – Godfreys agreement terminated

By Nick Hall | 07 Nov 2018 View comments

Workers at vacuum retailer, Godfreys are set for pay-spike following a decision by the Fair Work Commission to terminate the company’s non-union enterprise agreement.

Of Godfreys’ 539 employees, 312 are covered under the agreement, which was revealed to have expired in 2012.

The move follows a lengthy dispute between the company and the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association (SDA), which in November 2017, filed an application to terminate Godfreys’ 2009 agreement.

The SDA told the commission that the introduction of the General Retail Industry Award 2010 governed Award increases in accordance with annual wage review decisions, however, under Godfreys’ agreement, employees were only provided with wage increases on 1 July 2010 and 1 July 2011, more than seven years ago.

The union also revealed that wage rates for workers under the Godfreys agreement ranged from $602.68 for level 1 employees to $686.00 for level 4 employees, far below the award rates of $763.20 an $842.30 respectvely.

Additionally, the commission heard that in some cases, employees were paid casual loading rates as little as 15 per cent, compared to the award standard of 25 per cent.

Former Godfreys CFO, Andrew Ford acknowledged that the past year had proven to be a difficult one for the brand, stating that Godfreys is currently facing significant competitive challenges and has several competitors in the market.

In July, two Godfreys employees provided statements to the Commission, highlighting a number of issues with the current agreement.

“As a … employee of Godfreys, I have seen no increase in our pay at any time. We have an agreement that is nine years old and totally unacceptable and out of date. The wage we are paid falls so far behind the award it is not funny,” one employee said in a statement.

“We are all required to work weekends and most companies get some sort of penalty for it, we are promised commission for the time spent yet we could also receive none. All in all, I don’t believe staff are paid for all of the time they spend, going between stores to get stock, working earlier in the mornings etc,” the second employee statement said.

Godfreys however, opposed the SDA’s submission, stating that under the company’s commission scheme, employees had the opportunity to “earn remuneration that exceeds the wages and allowances under the Award”, arguing that termination would have no positive impact on the broader retail industry.

The brand also critiqued the validity of the submission, commenting that “the SDA is not an employee organisation covered by the Agreement and as such, there is no statutory obligation on the Commission to consider its views”.

Upon consideration however, Commission Deputy President Richard Clancy determined that the average weekly commission earned by employees was closer to $85, falling significantly short of the amount need to reach the award rate, prompting him to terminate the agreement.

“Having regard to all these matters and noting the Act contemplates the Award and NES applying as the safety net, in the event of termination of the Agreement, I consider it is appropriate in the circumstances of this case to grant the Application,” Deputy President Clancy said.

Clancy acknowledged that based on the submissions presented by Ford and Godfreys, the termination of the agreement would likely result in a negative impact on productivity and efficiency, but stronger working conditions for employees.

Godfreys was contacted for further comment.