Apple store workers go on strike in Australia

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Apple isn’t just facing unionization efforts among its retail workers. The New York Times reports about 150 store staff went on strike for an hour Tuesday after negotiations for better pay and working conditions hit an impasse. On Wednesday, they refused to provide a mix of services that included repairing AirPods and managing deliveries. 

The striking employees showed support for unions and called for a range of improvements, including the higher income and schedules with two consecutive days off. Apple had offered staff a higher minimum wage of $27.64 AUD (about $17.35 US) in talks with unions, but the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association union called that a “real wage cut” that didn’t account for inflation. That group wants a $31 AUD ($19.53 US) wage roughly equivalent to what American workers get. It’s also difficult to have weekends with the current scheduling, the workers said.

As in the US, there are allegations Apple is using anti-union tactics. The Association claims Apple interfered with labor organizers trying to survey employees ahead of negotiations. Apple has supposedly tried to rush a vote on the deal.

Apple has denied rushing the vote, and said part-time workers could specify four or more days of availability. They also get schedules two weeks in advance. In a statement to The Times, the iPhone maker maintains that it’s “among the highest-paying” companies in Australia and has made “many” improvements to its benefits.

The strike and task refusals were spurred in part by labor action in the US. There, workers at an increasing number of Apple stores have tried to join unions with varying success. Team members at a Towson, Maryland store managed to unionize, but reports surfaced that Apple was supposedly withholding benefits while negotiations with the union took place. At many stores, the company has apparently pushed anti-union talking points that suggested formal representation could make things worse. There’s no certainty American employees will strike like their Australian counterparts, but it’s evident that the outcry is getting louder.

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