The Guardian • Issue #2026

Workers in unions prevent Apple employees being squeezed for excessive hours and low pay

Australian Unions

  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2026

Photo: Toshiyuki IMAI – (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The workers that bring you the “Genius bar” at Apple have made a clever move: they’ve joined their union.

Apple tried to rush though a non-union Agreement that would have left over 4,000 Apple workers across Australia facing real wage cuts and working up to sixty hours without overtime.

Meanwhile, the company posted a record profit of $83 billion for the most recent quarter.

A tech giant that can well and truly afford to give workers a decent pay rise

Apple CEO Tim Cook faced heat from Apple’s own shareholders last year due to his $99 million pay packet. And fair enough – his pay was 1,447 times the earnings of the average Apple employee.

The proposed 2.5 per cent increase in the Agreement was well below cost-of-living hikes and Apple obstructed union organisers from bringing together the voices of Apple employees to demand better wages and conditions.

This move was typical of massive corporate giants. Huge pay packets for CEOs and executives, skyrocketing profits, and real pay cuts for workers who make it all possible.

What was the secret job hack workers at the “smartest company on Earth” used? They joined their union.

The power of union members sticking together

It was because of the unionised workers at Apple who stood together that prevented the dodgy Agreement from being rushed into place.

Members of the Australian Services Union (ASU) and the Shop, Distributive & Allied Employees Association (SDA) submitted their log of claims – what workers want to see included in the new Agreement such as better wages and conditions – to the company last week.

Following this, the unionised workers were able to achieve consensus with the employer on an acceptable way forward in negotiations for the new Agreement.

Through the organising efforts of union members, Apple workers are now able to collectively raise their concerns around not just wages but also the need for flexible leave to improve work-life balance and better rostering so employees can have consecutive days off.

How to get a fairer slice of the Apple

Collective bargaining is one of the most powerful way workers can win better wages but the bargaining system in Australia is out-of-date and is no longer serving workers as it should.

Union members are working to ensure we can have access to multi-employer bargaining that means all workers can enjoy decent wage growth and consistent conditions.

In the meantime, union members at Apple are using their collective power to make sure the company lives up to its values of respect and transparency.

And you don’t need to be an Apple employee to create a better workplace and have pay that can keep up with rising cost-of-living.

No matter where you are, organised workplaces are where workers in unions stand with each other. It’s why union members earn, on average, $250 more per week than non-union members.

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