Bookshop workers write next chapter of struggle

Workers at the Readings bookshop chain in Melbourne are closing in on an inaugural enterprise agreement.

Sally, a union delegate at the Hawthorn branch, told Solidarity that by standing firm they had won a series of concessions from management including improved sick leave, domestic violence leave, better casual conversion, dispute resolution procedures and more.

But management has still not met the workers’ claim for a minimum rate of $26 an hour—offering 67 cents an hour less.

Sally spoke to a vibrant solidarity rally outside the Carlton store on Saturday: “I want a wage that pays my rent and let’s me support my family.”

Workers, members of the Retail and Fast Food Workers Union (RAFFWU), have balloted on 21 forms of industrial action, with the result to be declared in the coming week.

But management have walked away from negotiations and have put the sub-standard deal to an all-staff (non-union) vote.

The rally was also addressed by Bruce, a warehouse worker and United Workers Union delegate, who told the crowd about their victory in the western suburbs last year.

“Keep fighting, hold the line and show Readings what union power is about,” he said.

Ender, a delegate at the Carlton store, and Clare, a delegate at the Readings warehouse, also spoke.

The priority now is to get the biggest No vote in the all-staff ballot and gear up to start using tougher industrial tactics to bring management to heel.

By David Glanz

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