Australian Apple workers vote to strike over pay and work-life balance

A group of Apple workers across Australia will strike next week as a bitter dispute between the union and tech giant ramps up over a new pay deal.

Up to 150 workers represented by the Retail and Fast Food Workers Union (RAFFWU) voted to start a range of industrial actions, including hour-long stoppages in Apple stores on Tuesdays and other work-related bans.

The move would be the first nationally co-ordinated strike by retail workers in Australian history.

Employees will also implement bans on using stores phones, handling deliveries and repairs, providing technical support for Airpods, and installing screen protectors as part of the action.

The union, which represents 150 members out of Apple’s 4000 staff, has warned that staff have also agreed to an additional 24-hour strike if Apple puts forward a final deal to vote on the new agreement without union endorsement.

RAFFWU national secretary Josh Cullinan said bargaining had been going on for two months but Apple was refusing to agree to even “minimum conditions” such as set rosters and days off.

“The biggest one is the absolute failure of work-life balance so our members are required to be available 24/7 all the time,” he told

“They are also on zero hour contracts and not guaranteed any hours and have to wait for rosters to be issued to know when they are working and many of the workers end up working six days a week and it has a massive impact on their ability to have work -life balance.

“In any other retail environment that is a casual and workers are paid 25 per cent more and here they don’t get that get.”

In the proposed agreement, full-time employees are scheduled to work 76 hours per fortnight, per Australian standards, and part-time employees would be guaranteed 19 hrs per week.

However, Mr Cullinan said Apple workers “get paid less than someone selling an iPhone in JB Hi-Fi”.

“This is a trillion dollar company and they make billions and billions profits every year, including in Australia, and it can’t afford to provide basic conditions,” he said.

The union has also warned the new pay deal introduced in August would result in real wage cuts for workers and could lead to them being rostered for 60 hours a week without overtime.

But Apple disputes these allegations and it is saying no employee would be subject to a 60 hour week and overtime would be paid to employees working more than 76 hours, while part-time employees scheduled at short notice would also receive overtime.

The company is also understood to claim that the proposed enterprise agreement also includes minimum rates of pay that exceed industry awards by at least 17 per cent.

“Throughout this process we’ve engaged in good faith and are proud to offer very strong compensation and benefits to support our nearly 4000 valued team members across Australia,” an Apple spokeswoman said.

Mr Cullinan said workers want to see a range of improved conditions.

“We want to see more leave for personal leave and a fairer system of leave for those with cultural responsibilities and better job security and there is a whole range of other claims that members are trying to pursue and can’t even have a discussion as they are trying to fight over the minimum conditions,” he added.

“We want Apple to be out in front to be negotiating job security, set rosters and living wages. They can afford it and they should do it.”

On Monday, the Australian Services Union (ASU) and the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association (SDA), said that Apple had agreed to hold further meetings after the unions filed applications to the Fair Work Commission.

But RAFFWU, which is newer after being established in 2016 after Mr Callinan helped uncover a wages scandal, disputed this claim and said Apple came back to the negotiating table after the union agreed not to take industrial action for three weeks.

But he said apart from a couple of minor changes, there was still a deadlock over key issues.

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