Retail workers at Apple stores across the country have applied to the Fair Work Commission to take industrial action after the tech giant tried to push through a poor enterprise agreement (EA).
The more than 4000, mostly casual, worker have had to put up with bad conditions, including no access to weekend penalty rates, insecure jobs, an expectation of wide availability and low wages.
Apple proposed a new EA that not only included a real wage cut, it would allow management to roster workers for 60 hours a week, without overtime.
Apple — along with other tech giants such as Amazon, Google, Facebook and Microsoft — have ramped up union-busting tactics in response to growing industrial campaigns.
Apple workers in Maryland, Baltimore, in the United States, became the first of the company’s retail stores to unionise in June.
Retail and Fast Food Workers Union (RAFFWU) secretary Josh Cullinan told Vice World News that the US workers’ action has inspired Australian workers. He said the Australian workers are experiencing similar union-busting tactics.
“We have our protected action ballot underway, we provide the bargaining representative appointments of our members to [Apple] management, so they know where these groups of workers are, and then [suddenly] the employee and labour relations team is showing up [in these locations],” Cullinan told Vice World News.
“They come in under the guise of ‘someone’s complained’, or ‘someone’s raised an issue’, which is complete garbage,” he said. “And then they just grill every worker, ‘How did you come to join the union? Who asked you to join the union?’— all on the shop floor.”
RAFFWU members at Apple endorsed a log of claims on August 22 that includes: a $31 an hour base rate, with annual wage rises of 5% or in line with inflation; penalty rates on weekends and night shifts; the abolition of junior rates; no changes to rosters with agreement; guaranteed leave and rest breaks; among other claims.
If the workers’ protected action ballot is authorised, they will be able to start taking industrial action to force Apple to the negotiating table.