Bookshop goes back on hard-won deal

Unionists and community members gather outside Better Read Than Dead bookshop to show their support for workers. Photo: Isaac Nellist

More than 50 unionists and community members gathered outside Better Read Than Dead in solidarity with the bookshop's workers restarting industrial action after management reneged on an in-principle agreement reached in July.

Retail and Fast Food Workers’ Union (RAFFWU) members at the Newtown bookshop became the first retail workplace, outside the meat industry, to take industrial action in more than 50 years. They are fighting for an enterprise bargaining agreement that includes workplace safety and sexual harassment protections, job security clauses, parental leave and Sunday penalty rates.

RAFFWU secretary told Green Left in July that the agreement was “far superior to any major retail or fast-food agreement in Australia”. However, management has still not signed off on the agreement.

Workers restarted their industrial action from November 13, putting bans on overtime, web orders, cash handling, returns and changing window displays, until the agreement is secured. All the bookshop workers are taking part.

RAFFWU organiser Loukas Kokagiannis told the rally the bookshop workers are prepared to fight to secure the agreement. Better Read Than Dead workers described how earlier this year management had threatened them with legal action and being sacked.

RAFFWU members at Readings bookshops in Victoria, who are campaigning for similar demands, sent a solidarity message to the rally.

Members of the Maritime Union of Australia, United Workers’ Union, Australian Unemployed Workers’ Union, Industrial Workers of the World and Socialist Alliance showed their support.

Workers asked supporters to attend a community rally on November 19 at Camperdown Memorial Rest Park at 5pm.