Australia Apple Store workers go on strike

Posted:
in General Discussion edited October 2022
Apple Store employees stopped work for an hour at Australia's Brisbane, Chermside, and Charlestown sites, in protest over pay and conditions.

Strikers at Apple's Brisbane store. Source: Cameron Atfield, Sydney Morning Herald
Strikers at Apple's Brisbane store. Source: Cameron Atfield, Sydney Morning Herald


As previously announced, Apple Store staff, who are also members of the Retail and Fast Food Workers Union (RAFFWU), went on strike on Tuesday, October 18, 2022. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, it was an historic protest.

"This is the first time there's been a national stoppage of work in retail history," RAFFWU secretary Josh Cullinan told the publication. "Our historians and labour historians and other people have gone through all the books [and] they cannot find a single event like it."

"It's a massive step forward to working with people that are paid so poorly and treated," he continued, while adding that Apple Store staff had stepped up "where no other retail workers in Australian history have gone."

Apple has proposed a new pay deal that the union argues gives workers either no actual increase, or in 25% of cases, only below-inflation increases. The union has detailed the figures and broken down Apple's offer on a website called Are We Voting Yes Yet.

An Apple person told the Sydney Morning Herald that staff were rewarded with "strong compensation and exceptional benefits" and the company was proud of its performance in that regard.

"Apple is among the highest-paying employers in Australia," continued the spokesperson, "and we've made many significant enhancements to our industry-leading benefits, including new educational and health and wellness programs."

Apple further claims that its new pay proposal has minimum rates of pay that exceed Australian industry standards by 17%, and that it would also improve scheduling and overtime conditions.

Under the terms of the employment contract, striking workers were reportedly not allowed to talk to the media. However, they did speak with each other, in front of journalists.

"It felt amazing to walk out together," one worker said to another. "Walking down the middle of that store, with so many of us, the energy was absolutely amazing."

"We were so lucky that we as a team have been able to band together so strongly about this," continued the worker. "I can only hope that this happens again in every Apple store around the world."

Ex-Apple Store employee and now Australian Member of Parliament Stephen Bates joined the picket line and said that working conditions were key to the union's dispute with Apple.

"You're supposed to be available seven days a week and even though you're hired as part-time or full-time, your roster can change at the last minute, the day before you're supposed to go in," he said.

"You can get your shifts cut short, extended, and [you are] basically treated like a casual worker," he continued, "but you don't get that casual loading, which is exactly why we have casual loading because you're supposed to be compensated for the flexibility."

Australia Apple Store staff have several unions they are eligible for, with RAFFWU being just one. RAFFWU membership is around 150 staff out of the country's approximately 4,000 Apple retail workers.

Following Tuesday's strike, RAFFU members are planning further industrial action, this time for 24 hours on Saturday, October 22, 2022.

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 5
    badmonkbadmonk Posts: 1,320member
    "You're supposed to be available seven days a week and even though you're hired as part-time or full-time, your roster can change at the last minute, the day before you're supposed to go in," he said.

    "You can get your shifts cut short, extended, and [you are] basically treated like a casual worker," he continued, "but you don't get that casual loading, which is exactly why we have casual loading because you're supposed to be compensated for the flexibility."

    Sounds like healthcare workers, especially RNs.  

    Welcome to the real world.  I cannot speak to the real world experience of an AS retail worker but it seems like a fairly cush job, though dealing with customer complaints must suck.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 5
    sbdudesbdude Posts: 277member
    I wonder who's forcing these people to work retail? I worked at Best Buy (in the Geek Squad, no less) for two years while in college, and I've been an engineer for the last 17. Retail is not a career; it's a stepping stone. Stop expecting life to be easy.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 5
    JFC_PAJFC_PA Posts: 938member
    Three stores is “historic”? Makes one wonder if anything else stated isn’t far out hyperbole?

    the scheduling isn’t convenient? Try another job. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 5
    laytechlaytech Posts: 339member
    If you read the union's argument why not to vote yes, the wording is sour, bitter and aimed at exaggerating their claims. I am not disputing some of the issues raised around leave and shift notification and the salaries don't look super generous (but then I have zero idea what other retailers pay) but this is also totally excluding other benefits they receive. 

    Once again, the unions seem to be trying to justify their existence. At the end of the day, people will vote with their feet, if its not a good place to work and you are not remunerated well enough, people simply will not work there. Period. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 5
    The usual ignorant comments by Americans who are prone to pontificate on matters outside their little world. There’s a labour shortage for retail workers in Australia and Apple Australia is having problems keeping and getting staff under the conditions and pay being offered by Apple Australia. Of course Apple Australia has to jump through the hoops of Apple HQ despite different local conditions. 

    Those who went on strike have been represented by RAFFWU in talks for a new agreement to replace the zombie deal that  cuts conditions and wages below the minimum specified by the award.

    There have been 18 meetings in 10 weeks, but the union said Apple still refused to guarantee minimum conditions.

    Apple is not going to have it so easy in Australia as it has in the US. f the new deal goes through, then it will apply to all Apple stores in Australia and not the one by one joke in the US. Maybe staff in ÚS Apple shops will be encouraged to demand their slice of the Apple profit rather than just the senior executives getting all the cream. 

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