Apple workers in Australia gear up for more strike action

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FILE PHOTO: Customers and staff wear protective masks inside an Apple Store in Sydney

By Lewis Jackson

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Hundreds of Apple workers in Australia are set to strike again after almost two-thirds of employees rejected a pay and benefits deal, the latest escalation of a fight that has seen weeks of walkouts at stores around the country.

Results released on Monday show 68% of Apple workers rejected a workplace agreement proposed by management with 87% of Apple’s almost 4,000 Australian workers participating. Apple declined to comment on the results.

Members of the Retail and Fast Food Workers Union (RAFFWU), one of three involved in negotiations and representing around 200 workers, will meet on Monday night and union representatives say more strikes will “absolutely” be discussed.

“Workers are very happy, they’ve been campaigning for a fair agreement for three months. Our members have been engaged in pretty serious work bans and strikes,” RAFFWU secretary Josh Cullinan told Reuters by phone.

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“We expect members will want to endorse a series of work stoppages.”

RAFFWU workers staged a one-hour walkout on Saturday, midway through the three-day ballot. It followed a full day strike earlier in October.

Negotiations began in August when Apple proposed a new set of locked-in wage rises and conditions that unions say mean real wage cuts and poor work-life balance.

Unions want Apple to guarantee wage increases that reflect inflation – which is tracking around 7% in Australia, more than double the central bank’s target range – and weekends of two consecutive days rather than being split.

Apple says its minimum pay rates are 17% above the industry minimum and that full-time workers get guaranteed weekends.

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(Reporting by Lewis Jackson; Editing by Lincoln Feast)

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