Dirk van Dalen & Liam Mitchell
The retailer Spotlight has imposed Australian Workplace Agreements on staff, giving a $0.02 per hour wage rise in exchange for eliminating penalty rates, rest breaks, and overtime and holiday pay rates. The result is an effective loss of about $90 per week for workers.
Over the last fortnight, protests have been held outside Spotlight stores around the country to demonstrate community opposition to these AWAs specifically and to the Howard government's Work Choices laws in general.
On June 12, a group of young people organised by the socialist youth group Resistance targeted the Moolap store in Geelong. Justine Kamprad, an organiser of the protest, said: "The retail industry bosses' organisation, the National Retail Association, is applauding what Spotlight has done to its workers and thinks a lot of other retailers will follow Spotlight's lead. We can't let them get away with this."
Resistance members in Geelong say they will continue to protest at Spotlight stores, and any other businesses that force their workers onto AWAs.
In Sydney, 15 people from the Socialist Alliance and the Inner West Your Rights at Work group protested outside Spotlight's Rockdale store on June 17. They distributed leaflets to customers, staff and passers-by that explained what Spotlight management is doing to the workers and publicised the rally in Blacktown on the June 28 national day of action against Work Choices.
The workers in the Spotlight store, none of whom have signed an AWA yet, expressed strong support for the action, with a few saying they would have joined the protest if they could.
From Green Left Weekly, June 21 2006.
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