STATEMENT IN SUPPORT OF THE ENTERPRISE AGREEMENT
Better Read Than Dead is the first non-university book shop to agree in principle an enterprise agreement with its staff members. This is a significate and progressive move for the book industry, and we are very proud of this achievement.
During the bargaining process BRTD came under the scrutiny of some parts of the community who were disappointed by our lack of support for staff wanting to unionise and perceived our action contrary to our stated business philosophy and reputation. We have always stated that we support the right of staff to unionise, but also needed to negotiate a position that would be equitable for both staff and business.
On Tuesday 27th July, we met with RAFFWU for the 3rd time and were able to reach an agreement on a number of key points. We are pleased to announce that 100% of the union workforce voted in favour of the proposed agreement. Bookshops at the scale of BRTD are marginal businesses, which has been made worse by COVID-19. The original log of claims, including 5% wage increases each year and up to 75 days paid leave, would have bankrupt BRTD. Despite some difficult moments during negotiations, the final result is testament to a more reasoned approach from both parties.
All staff will remain covered by the General Retail Industry Award pay guide which indicates a minimum casual pay of $27.23 per hour. In relation to leave entitlements, we are also covered by the Award, but have additionally approved a 26 weeks of paid parental leave, regardless of gender, and 20 days paid leave for all workers experiencing intimate partner, domestic or family abuse. The EBA will support casual staff to move to permanent part-time positions, at a pay rate above the award.
Our bookshop has always, and will always, reflect the views and perspectives of our booksellers – and we will continue to be guided by them on what issues we support and what books we champion. We will continue to host community events and fundraisers, publish anthologies, support local schools and charities with prizes and donations, and support authors and publishers whose work we believe in. This has always been our aim, and whilst the COVID-19 situation has hindered our ability to host in-person events, we have not faltered on our commitment to community we serve.
We were mindful of the response this statement might incur in the midst of negotiations and have not wanted to jeopardise the process. We have been careful not to put our staff in the line of fire, as so much feedback has been directed to us through them.
We believe that every staff member has approached this with the best of intentions, and we look forward to working together as a unified team.