Union Bookstore pay deal puts small businesses on notice

By contrast, Cullinan said the union campaign had boosted morale at the bookstore “after years of decline.”

The RAFFWU is also in the final stages of negotiations with Readings, a medium-sized bookstore in Melbourne, he said. “We work with members of many other small, medium and large companies to organize and negotiate agreements. »

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Small businesses employ nearly half of Australia’s workers but are mostly non-unionized, with wages and conditions generally set by price.

Council of Small Business Organizations Australia chief executive Alexi Boyd said workers joining unions was “not something our members have raised as a concern”.

“At the end of the day, small businesses want to take care of workers,” she said.

Boyd said small business owners have trouble navigating the rewards system. “What’s best for small businesses is simplicity that will ultimately improve compliance. »

Cullinan said small businesses have “nothing to worry about” from organizing workers and negotiating enterprise agreements.

With a tight labor market, Cullinan said an employer offering superior conditions will often attract employees.

“For an employer that markets itself on the basis of progressiveness, there is an implicit benefit in providing workers with enforceable progressive and sectoral terms,” he said.

The agreement between the union and Better Read comes as Australia’s tech retail and hospitality bodies have joined medical experts and the labor movement in calling on the federal government to reintroduce a furlough backstop of COVID disease as cases increase.

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The RAFFWU was founded in 2016 following a nationwide pay scandal centered on workplace deals struck by the conservative Shop, Distributive & Allied Employees Association with major employers including Coles, Woolworths and McDonald’s.

Cullinan said the ‘shoppies’ union was for the bosses, while the RAFFWU was for the workers.

“The SDA sought to negotiate wage stripping agreements with small and medium-sized businesses in an effort to replicate what it had achieved with large corporations,” he said.

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