[Australia] Kmart defends lack of superannuation choices

Kmart has defended its decision to deny employees a choice of superannuation funds, The Sydney Morning Herald reports.

The retailer intends to remain with the same industry superannuation fund and says its position is justified by existing law.

A representative for Kmart said the arrangement was in line with previous EBAs and with the law around superannuation legislation.

He said, "The new Kmart national agreement provides for contributions to be made to REST which is consistent with the current agreement and complies with Australian superannuation legislation."

"We have also included a clause which would update the terms should the law change relating to choice of fund during the life of this EBA. We’re aware of an objection that has been raised and this will be dealt with by the FWC as per the usual approval process."

Some reportedly disagree, saying a lack of superannuation fund choices risks federal parliament becoming stuck in a legislative stalemate over laws that deny workers the option to select their own fund.

Kelly O’Dwyer - Minister for Jobs and Industrial Relations - says a block from Labor on legislation she introduced in 2017 is to blame. "The Coalition government has legislation in the Senate right now which would give superannuation fund members the right to choose where to put their retirement savings," she said.

"Superannuation is workers’ money, so they should have the choice of where their super goes. If Labor supported our sensible changes it would quickly be law."

The 2014-15 Heydon Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption recommended that superannuation laws be amended to prevent enterprise agreements excluding choice of fund.

The Retail and Fast Food Workers Union (RAFFWU) believes the Kmart agreement could leave workers worse off. RAFFWU secretary Josh Cullinan said the SDA has not properly explained to workers that they are missing out.

"We are contesting the agreement, arguing that should not be approved because it does not meet the better off overall test," he said. "For a very long time, retail and fast food agreements have had superannuation locked into REST.

"When we have been negotiating for the last two years with various employers, everyone else is introducing either full superannuation choice or some form of choice. Kmart has been the only one that has refused to negotiate on that point and have insisted to keep REST.”

The Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees' Association (SDA) said, as of July last year, the REST fund “...was the highest performing industry fund of its class over the preceding 10 years".

According to an SDA spokesman, members did not raise the issue of choice and 91.7 per cent of Kmart workers voted for the new EBA.