When workers come together and form a group to improve their working conditions they are forming a union.
A union represents and pursues the claims of its members in enterprise bargaining with employers, and in workplace disputes, including disputes over rosters, wages, safety and many other issues.
RAFFWU represents our members before tribunals like the Fair Work Commission, and we can prosecute employers for a range of unlawful activities in the courts, including for deliberately or recklessly misrepresenting the workplace rights of members.
Each union represents its members in a specific industry. RAFFWU is the Retail and Fast Food Workers Union. If you work in a shop, store, supermarket, fast food restaurant, or for any retail or fast food company in Australia, RAFFWU is the union for you.
By forming or joining a union, workers can improve their conditions through direct, collective action.
Securing the best workplace agreement with better wages, safety, job security and conditions needs many workers campaigning together. We know that workers win this way, which is why we encourage you to become a RAFFWU member and to get your fellow workers involved.
Workers deserve an equal share in the wealth and value we create in the world through our labour.
RAFFWU is a union and an industrial association. We support, represent, advocate on behalf of and bargain collectively for members across the retail and fast food sectors in Australia.
The Fair Work Act 2009 defines “industrial association” as including:
[A]n 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).
In 2020, the Federal Court of Australia found RAFFWU had acted in the national interest when litigating a major McDonald’s franchisee for denying rest breaks and for union-busting. The court said:
“I conclude these reasons for judgment by recognising the service to the national interest by the Union in the circumstances of the present case.”
RAFFWU represents its members in enterprise agreement negotiations and has, in fact, negotiated the best retail enterprise agreements in Australian history. RAFFWU represents workers who have applied to join or who are RAFFWU members, and who appoint RAFFWU as their bargaining representative.
The enterprise agreements that RAFFWU has negotiated include the famous Better Read Than Dead Bookshop deal, which guaranteed all RAFFWU members conversion from casual work to ongoing work. That deal also abolished junior rates, paid higher wages than SDA retail agreements, classified all workers at higher rates, paid 100% penalty rates on Sunday, increased redundancy rights, introduced fair treatment rights, paid 6 months parental leave, 20 days domestic violence leave and much more.
An enterprise agreement is an agreement between workers and employers that contains the terms and conditions of employment, including wages, for a period of up to 4 years from the date of the approval. RAFFWU helps workers bargain for living wages, safer working conditions, and any other conditions that are important to workers at their specific workplace.
A bargaining representative is the contact point between employees and employers. Appointing RAFFWU as your bargaining representative means you stand in solidarity with your coworkers through collective bargaining for an enterprise agreement. This means that bargaining for an agreement in your workplace can be tailored to suit the needs of all workers in the workplace.
RAFFWU is not automatically appointed as your bargaining representative in the workplace.
To appoint RAFFWU as your bargaining representative, send an email to email@example.com with your name, employer, store location and the following text:
I hereby appoint the Retail And Fast Food Workers Union Incorporated as my bargaining representative for the purposes of bargaining an Agreement with my employer and in any matter before the Fair Work Commission that relates to bargaining for the agreement.
That appointment will be given to your employer and they must then recognise RAFFWU as your bargaining representative in the workplace. They must not take any action against you for being represented by RAFFWU.
RAFFWU is not a registered “Employee Organisation” under Fair Work legislation, and we do not claim to be such an organisation.
We may apply to be registered in the future. However, such registration does not define what 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 have what is called “Right of Entry”, which includes providing an employer with 24 hours’ notice of entry to a work site in order for union organisers to have discussions with workers about the union during breaks.
Workers can choose to meet RAFFWU representatives outside the workplace, including during breaks.
Workers might have their break at a local café or have lunch in an outside area where they can meet with RAFFWU representatives. Workers can meet in a carpark before or after a shift, or in a local park or community centre. We use all these spaces to meet and talk about union campaigns and action.
We provide members with industrial advice and industrial support, which is not legal advice. Like all unions, the level of industrial advice and support we provide will be determined by the Union.
Like almost all 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. We refer members with Workcover claims to our partner law firms for free initial consultations and discounted rates for litigation work.
Our union does employ lawyers for advising, representing and litigating the Union’s interests. We also work with law firms on major actions, such as the Domino’s Pizza Class Action and McDonald’s Rest Breaks Class Action.
You can join RAFFWU by completing a membership form: Join.
Our website has many pages dedicated to specific workplaces and the Union’s campaigns in those workplaces. If your Workplace is among these, you can also follow the instructions on the page specific to your employer in order to join RAFFWU.
RAFFWU is the fighting union for all retail workers in Australia, no matter how large or small your employer. We can and do represent retail workers who are employed by small businesses, including at bookstores, clothing stores, jewellery stores, stationers and bottle shops.
If you are a retail or fast food worker in Australia, you can join RAFFWU even if no one else at your workplace is a member.
Workers are stronger together, which is why we encourage you to join RAFFWU and to get your fellow workers involved. But if you are the first RAFFWU member at your workplace, we are here to support you in talking to your fellow workers about the importance of a union.
We have expert advocates and experienced campaigners helping our members secure the best possible outcomes. And we always put the needs of our members first, including supporting our members who are the first in their workplace to join RAFFWU.
Our Workplace pages exist to highlight specific campaigns and bargaining rounds that the Union is or has been involved in.
If you can’t see your specific workplace listed on our website, this doesn’t mean you can’t join RAFFWU. We are the fighting union for retail and fast food workers in Australia, in workplaces large and small.
We respect the work of other democratic and free trade unions – see our About page for relevant unions covering meat workers, transport and distribution workers, head office staff, and hospitality staff. We encourage you to join your union, if your work sector is represented by a union that is not RAFFWU.
If you are a hospitality worker employed at a café, bistro, independent restaurant, bar, club or pub, your union is the United Workers Union.
If you work at a fast food restaurantthat serves alcohol, your union is also theUnited Workers Union(UWU).
Uncertain if your workplace is covered by RAFFWU? Contact us and we’ll let you know.
We recognise that many workers in the retail and fast food industries are younger than 18.
Our membership is structured so that workers who are younger than 18 receive a substantial discount on their membership fees, in recognition of the fact that many young workers are being paid junior wage rates.
For more information on our membership types and fees, see here: Membership Fees
The Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association (SDA) is a socially conservative, right-wing union, affiliated with the Australian Labor Party (ALP).
Retail workers and fast food workers in Australia have been short-changed for decades thanks to enterprise bargaining agreements (EBAs) struck between employers and the SDA, particularly at large employers like McDonald’s, KFC, Kmart, Coles and Woolworths.
RAFFWU’s Secretary, Josh Cullinan, helped to expose the SDA’s rotten behaviour in a landmark legal case in 2015, where his research demonstrated that the Fair Work Commission had been misled into approving an enterprise agreement at Coles that should never have passed the Commission’s Better Off Overall Test (BOOT).
The Fair Work Commission overturned the Coles deal, and cases against McDonald’s, Woolworths, Domino’s Pizza and more would follow. These employers’ EBAs, designed with the SDA’s full co-operation, had undermined workers’ conditions, with penalty rates stripped out of enterprise agreements and other workplace rights reduced or removed.
We are the only union for retail and fast food workers in Australia that has fought to terminate these bad deals and to improve the wages and conditions of our members. The SDA continues to push for deals that undermine workers’ conditions. We have helped our members to terminate or replace many of the worst agreements made by the SDA, and now we are helping members fight for far better conditions.
You can read our detailed fact sheet about the history of the SDA and its right-wing, anti-worker agenda here: SDA Facts.
RAFFWU is a union for workers, not bosses.
We are a democratic and socially progressive union and we support our members in their fight for workplace rights, including gender affirmation leave, cultural leave and access to sanitary products, and for workplace protections including anti-discrimination and sexual harassment policies. This is all done simultaneously with our campaigns for living wages, safer workplaces and secure jobs.
NO – You have the right to join the union of your choice and to appoint a bargaining representative of your choice.
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 to you that you are obliged to not join RAFFWU, or that you must join or remain a member of the SDA.
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, it is not true. 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, consequence or penalty for appointing RAFFWU as your bargaining representative, please also make notes and contact RAFFWU: firstname.lastname@example.org
The SDA’s own policy states that your resignation email must contain a “hand-written” signature. This is obviously designed to make it harder for you to resign, but you can follow this step-by-step guide on how to add a hand-written signature to your email by using your phone camera.
You should also cease any automatic payroll deductions to the SDA by emailing your payroll office with the text:
I hereby rescind any and all authority for SDA membership fees to be deducted from my pay. This serves as advice under s.324 (2) (b) of the Fair Work Act.
If you work at Woolworths and SDA fees are being deducted from your pay, see our Woolworths page, where you can generate an email to stop SDA deductions.
If you work at Coles and SDA fees are being deducted from your pay, see our Coles page, where you can fill in a RAFFWU membership form for Coles workers and elect to stop SDA deductions on that form.
RAFFWU is not affiliated with any political party, and has no intention of becoming affiliated with a political party.
Our members and supporters come from all walks of life and include members of various political parties. We welcome politically engaged members and supporters, but reiterate that the Union itself is not affiliated with a political party.
We welcome solidarity donations from supporters. You can give a one-off donation or set up a regular donation to RAFFWU using this form: Donate.
RAFFWU reserves the right to accept or return donations and does not accept donations from employers in the retail or fast food sectors.
Donations are not tax deductible.
For our members and supporters, we also have RAFFWU t-shirts, hoodies and hats available for purchase on our Shop page. Our merchandise items are Australian Made and Ethical Clothing Australia certified.