Since we launched in 2016 we have been helping workers get rid of rotten old zombie agreements that strip rights and wages.

Zombie agreements have cost workers billions of dollars and continue to apply to thousands of workers across Australia.

Our wins include returning millions of dollars to workers in higher wages at IGA stores, Bakers Delight franchises and other medium-sized businesses that maintained these old deals.

Our biggest wins have been in helping our members to terminate the zombie deals at Domino’s and McDonald’s, which have returned over $200 million in higher yearly wages to fast food workers at these companies.

We can help you and your fellow workers to replace these old zombie agreements with Modern Award conditions. Take the first step by joining RAFFWU today.

A photograph of members of the Retail and Fast Food Workers Union at a rally. They are holding union flags and a banner that reads "Taking back our penalty rates: RAFFWU".

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What is a zombie agreement?

When we talk about workers being on “zombie agreements”, we’re talking about workplace agreements that were implemented during the Howard government’s controversial WorkChoices era, which stripped employees of enforceable workplace rights and resulted in many workers being paid wages below Award rates.

WorkChoices was repealed in its entirety by the Rudd government and replaced by the Fair Work Act 2009which effectively restored a number of the conditions that employees lost under WorkChoices.

On paper then, it seems outrageous that WorkChoice-era workplace agreements made between March 2006 and April 2007 are still in effect. It’s even worse when you consider that these agreements had a nominal five year expiry date: a WorkChoice-era agreement made in 2007, for instance, nominally expired in 2012. 

Unfortunately, under the Fair Work Act, workplace agreements continue to operate after the nominal expiry date passes, until they’re either replaced or terminated by application to the Fair Work Commission (FWC).

While any of the parties to the agreement can apply to the FWC for a termination of the agreement, that requires either an employer who wants to terminate an agreement which, most likely, saves them money in unpaid penalty rates, or employees who are aware that they’re on a zombie agreement and that they can do something about it.


A photograph of union activists holding colourful, hand-painted placards. The placards have slogans including "We are stronger together" and "If you don't fight you lose".

What can we do about it?

There have been a number of high-profile Australian businesses that have come under fire for paying employees based on WorkChoices-era agreements. A large percentage of these businesses rely on young, casualised workforces.

WorkChoice-era agreements have also been maintained with the collusion of the SDA, a union that would rather side with the bosses. When RAFFWU has helped workers to terminate WorkChoice-era agreements at the Fair Work Commission, the SDA has fought tooth-and-nail to stop us.

RAFFWU is the only union for retail and fast food workers in Australia that has campaigned to end these rotten zombie deals. Our members, who know they’ve been ripped off, have stepped up for themselves and their fellow workers, winning pack their penalty rates and other workplace conditions that should be a bare, legal minimum.

Unless there is legislative change, the responsibility for getting rid of zombie agreements lies overwhelmingly with workers taking action to terminate them. Employers are very unlikely to voluntarily get rid of agreements that have saved them millions of dollars in unpaid wages.

To start the process of terminating a zombie agreement at your workplace, join RAFFWU and contact us.

RAFFWU is your grassroots, fighting union — a union for workers, not bosses.

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