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Oz Apple Store staff vote to strike for better pay, settled rosters, clean shirts

Some plan to take a whole hour off

The union representing Apple Store workers in Australia has called a strike as part of ongoing negotiations for a new pay and conditions deal.

The strike, agreed to yesterday by members of the Retail and Fast Food Workers Union (RAFFWU), will see some staff at Australian Apple Stores stop work for an hour on October 18. Union members will also decline to undertake 15 specific tasks including accepting deliveries, installing screen protectors, meeting with Store bosses, or anything to do with arranging contracts with telecommunications carriers. The full list of banned activities is detailed in this document [PDF].

RAFFWU members employed by Apple unanimously agreed to the actions outlined above as negotiations between the union and the iGiant over a new "enterprise agreement" – an Australian construct that sets working conditions for a particular business – have proven difficult to conclude. Enterprise agreements can be renegotiated periodically, and Apple Australia happily entered that process.

The union has proposed [PDF] the agreement offer conditions including base pay of AU$31/hour ($19.40), a weekly healthcare allowance of AU$150 ($94), the right to work from home ten days a year, employer pension fund contributions at a higher rate than is required by law, and pay rises at either five percent annually or 2.5 percent more than the rate of inflation, whichever is higher.

Stable rosters are another demand, on grounds that workers with children can't easily arrange care if their working hours change frequently. Extra pay for working late or on weekends is another demand.

Workers also want Apple to provide them with five shirts and pay an AU$1.50 ($0.94) laundry allowance for each shift they work.

The strike isn't certain to happen. Workers will only withdraw their labor if Apple submits its own proposal for a new enterprise agreement without first seeking signoff from the union. Apple is within its rights to put its deal directly to workers without union approval.

That condition reflects a core RAFFWU concern: that Apple is not bargaining in good faith and has rushed negotiations.

But Apple Store workers are not required to be RAFFWU members, and it's not clear that a majority enjoy that status. It's therefore possible a vote on the enterprise agreement could proceed, and pass, without a majority of union members who work for Apple approving it.

In Apple's most recently reported full financial year, FY21, the company earned $365.8 billion in revenue and net income of $94.7 billion. It's hard to divine from public filings how much of that can be attributed to its business in Australia or to its company-owned retail outlets – but it's probably fair to say the Cupertino-based behemoth can afford the shirts - and probably many of the Union's other demands.

The Register has asked Apple for comment and will update this story if we receive a substantive response. ®

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