Delegate of the Month - Katherine
Katherine Hill is our Delegate at Kmart Bateau Bay. She has been a member of the SDA for more than seven years.
We asked Katherine about her role as a Delegate.
Why did you become a Delegate?
I was bullied within the workplace by a previous manager. I felt that I was put into isolation and never worked with any other teammates around me.
I was ignored and made to feel belittled. I was constantly overlooked and was never allowed to work in other departments. It was a huge challenge mentally, and I found myself crying a lot which was out of character for me.
I’d finally had enough, and I stood up for myself. Doing this gave me strength. I realised I needed to do this for my team mates to show them that they have rights as well.
What has been your most notable achievement within the workplace that you resolved?
There are two.
The first was when I helped a fellow team member with a workplace injury. She had injured herself at work and was on light duties. The management team wanted to permanently put her on front door duties and the team member was not happy with that. In a meeting with management I represented the member and argued that the proposed duties raised additional healthy and safety concerns. I was able to facilitate the team member’s wish to be moved into a different department, which she was happy with.
It was a small win but it made the team member happy. It also showed the rest of the team know that I’m there if they need any help, whether it’s a big or small issue.
The second was participating in a workplace dispute under the dispute resolution procedure in relation to alleged inappropriate conduct by a manager in the workplace. The issue took more time and was more serious. Together we secured a fair and just outcome. The relief from team members was so satisfying, as was knowing that I have played a role in making our workplace safer.
Why is recruitment important to you?
It shows solidarity within the store, and it is strength in numbers.
It’s okay to be a part of a Union. There is some fear of being in a Union, especially among younger staff. I want them to know it’s okay to join. As the store’s membership builds up it shows a team coming together.
What campaigns have you been involved in and why are they important?
The latest campaign - and I feel the most important one - is the campaign against customer abuse.
Customer abuse is a big problem in every workplace and it’s not okay! It does need a cultural change. I will help do whatever I can within my workplace to make my members and customers know that customer abuse is not okay.
I talk to my team mates about this issue and it is a common problem. I hear stories of customer abuse from almost every team member and that is not alright.
If we keep going with the policy of ‘customer is always right’ there will be no change. I now stand up for myself against customers. If a customer is abusing me I stop it straight away and let that customer know that what they are doing is not okay. I show my team they can stand up for themselves also.
Customers need to know that we are human too, and we’re just trying to do our job.
Why is Unionism important?
It gives a voice to the workers. We deserve to be heard as well. We all have rights and everybody needs to know them.
Workers need to know management aren’t always right. This is why we need unions to help the little people, and to give them confidence to stand up for themselves.
What do you most enjoy about being a Delegate?
Winning! Getting a ‘win’ is so satisfying.
These wins could be from giving someone the advice and the confidence they need to management about a problem, or being someone’s voice if they need it.
I am a voice in store for my team and they all know I will help them.