Apple has agreed to come to the bargaining table with Australian staff over a new workplace agreement after unions brought the company to the Fair Work Commission over employee demands for better pay and a guaranteed weekend.
Apple has proposed an enterprise agreement that includes a minimum rate of pay that is 17% above the award rate, outside of weekend penalty rates.
Staff would get higher pay rates for work after 8pm, an improvement from the previous 10pm but still later than the award time of 6pm.
The company is also offering a 2.8% wage increase next year, followed by 2.6% in 2024 and 2025.
But unions have pushed for Apple staff to be given at least one weekend off per month, and two consecutive days off when they work weekends. The unions also said permanent part-time staff are treated as casuals under the proposed agreement as they only get their roster every two to three weeks and are often asked to work at late notice.
Apple announced last month that it intended to bargain, but the Retail and Fast Food Workers’ Union (RAFFWU), the SDA and the Australian Services Union – who are representing Apple staff – said all of their claims were rejected.
On Monday the company provided a draft agreement and told staff and union representatives it would not bargain further, and that it intended to push ahead with a vote on the agreement on 29 September.
That would have prevented staff from taking industrial action before the vote was finalised. The steps needed to take protected industrial action could not be completed before 30 September.
Apple on Wednesday was brought back to the bargaining table after the RAFFWU sought good faith bargaining orders from the Fair Work Commission. The SDA and ASU had also made an application for orders in late August.
Apple and the three unions came to an agreement not to strike and not to ask employees to vote on the new agreement for three weeks until 11 October.
The unions agreed to provide Apple with a log of claims on Wednesday, with Apple to respond by close of business on Friday. Apple will also meet with the unions twice a week from 26 September until 7 October.
Gerard Dwyer, the national secretary of the SDA, accused the Apple of acting like “a cheap bully in a cheap suit”.
Dwyer said it never should have taken intervention from the Fair Work Commission for Apple to come to the table.
“This giant multinational should have more regard for the welfare of its Australian workforce than to try to dictate a pre-determined outcome it wants to impose rather than engaging in genuine bargaining,” he said.
“This is Australia not the United States.”
Josh Cullinan, the secretary of RAFFWU, said the pay proposals proposed by Apple were undercut by the rising inflation.
“Workers want fair wages [that] recognize this is a trillion dollar company making billions in profits,” he said. “We need much better wage increases and wage arrangements to go with rostering and work life balance.”
A spokesperson for Apple said the company was “committed to providing the best possible experience” for its employees.
“Our people are our soul and we’re committed to providing the best possible experience, including very strong compensation and benefits, annual stock grants and comprehensive leave policies, all of which exceed Australian industry standards,” they said.
In the US, Apple has been under growing pressure with its retail store staff looking to unionise and push for better pay and conditions. In May, Apple increased wages for retail staff in the US from US$20 to US$22 an hour.
In June, Apple Store workers in Maryland voted to join a union, becoming the first of its kind for the company in the US.