IWW Protest Outside Borders in Melbourne - Direct Action 1998
On Saturday at 12 noon, about 10 people met outside of the new Borders bookshop to protest about the working conditions of this new US bookstore chain, and their union busting reputation.
In trendy, gentrified rich area of South Yarra, holding a protest was an unusual activity, and definitely made waves.
The workers in surrounding shops could not recall seeing any union come there for far too long! We also leafletted workers in other small bookshops in area. We had two leaflets to hand out - one specifically addressed to the workers. This leaflet also talked about what had happened to workers in the US stores.
The other advertising the protest listed the address, telephone number (for those who could not attend to call up asking for a job, about wages, union membership!) and details on how to see the "union-busting manual" website, Borders global basis, ie 200 super-stores, expanded to London, Singapore and now Melbourne, next?
All in all we had many favourable responses to the leaflets. Most people read the leaflets handed out, several talked to us, and appeared interested. We had many comments eg "well, I won't be shopping here again", "I didn't know this", "It's good to see an upsurge in socialist activity", "Keep it up", "I complained about this shop last week, because they didn't have many books with Australian content!" "Good on yas for leafletting".
One of our members met with a woman who was the public relations officers for the shop. She expressed concern that we had not notified the shop of our intention to picket the store. She explained that the workers conditions at Borders Melbourne had been set up differently to the US stores in that all workers had individual workplace agreements, with very special benefits.
These special benefits were exactly explained. She also expressed her commitment to free speech and said she would have liked to hand out leaflets with us also(!). (I kid you not!)
We signed up one member for the group, and are now one short of becoming a branch. After a picnic, video showing, attending various local demonstrations eg against racism, by students protesting fees etc we are being seen as "doing something". All in all a pretty favourable time!