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ITNTW: Industry Wars – The Employees Strike Back

The two biggest contenders in the Aussie supermarket battles may be facing their toughest fight yet. Last Saturday the 7th of October hundreds of Coles and Woolworths workers took part in the first national strike of supermarkets in Australian history. And it’s believed this was only the beginning for the Retail and Fast-Food Workers Union (RAFFWU).

Respectively, Coles and Woolworths made profits of $1.1 and $1.6 billion but its employees are some of the lowest paid in the country. Fuelled by this alarming statistic, a two-hour stoppage took place from 10am across the country, calling for the two supermarket giants to pay living wages, make workplaces and provide secure jobs.

Although only a small portion of staff members took part in this strike the recent news coverage of the event opened Coles and Woolworths to a crisis of public opinion.

Growing trends in recent years show a move towards ethically sourced goods from producers, but as operational integrity is exposed these supermarkets are now open to public scrutiny in their own warehouse ethics.

This situation underscores the need for Coles and Woolworths to proactively address the concerns of their workforce and the expectations of an informed public. Both companies have a remarkable opportunity to lead by example, not just in their financial success but also in their commitment to fair wages, ethical sourcing, and ensuring the well-being of their valued employees. It’s a pivotal moment that could redefine their standing in the eyes of the Australian public and the global market.

However at this stage, both supermarkets are still reluctant to make any changes to their payrates.

Across the Pacific in Hollywood, the film and television industry has found itself in similar turmoil. The Hollywood Writers Guild of America (WGA) and SAG-AFTRA recently ended their five-month strike after approving an agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.

Dimming the sparkle of the glamourous industry, the strikes captivated global media with notable actors including Meryl Streep, Brendan Fraiser and Jennifer Lawerence supporting the movement as well as causing shows such as Saturday Night Live to pause production.

With Forbes Magazine’s Toni Fitzgerald reporting on the overwhelming amount of public sympathy falling in favor of the WGA and SAG, the AMPTRA found itself facing a crisis of public opinion similar to the one Woolworths and Coles have now been buried in.

The WGA & SAG-AFTRA aimed to achieve fair compensation, better residuals, job security and address the lack of professional standards from streaming services, particularly around the rise of artificial intelligence, something their recent agreement is believed to have accomplished. The agreement has shifted the AMPTRA back out of its negative public perception, creating positive outcomes for not only the unions but also for themselves.

Whether it’s the writers on Hollywood’s biggest TV series or the workers at you local supermarket, it’s clear no matter how big the business, failing to adequately support grassroots employees will adversely effect the public opinion on the corporation.

By Daniel Chalker & Victoria Guest – PR & Influencer Assistants at InsideOut PR and #AsSeenOn

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