The Retail Action Network is a new project that has just launched in Lekwungen Territory, also known as Victoria, BC. We are bringing together retail workers and labour activists to turn the tide in the relationship between workers and their employers in the service sector.
Clearly, retail and service sector work is undervalued in comparison to other industries in our community when we look at the consistently low wages, the absence of benefits, and the lack of job security that exists. This is problematic, as the number of people employed in this industry is steadily increasing, and these jobs are often without union representation. This means a growing number of workers are left without a voice to fight for justice, dignity, or improved conditions in the workplace.
What we are seeing is that non-unionized service sector workers are left to wait for minimal, incremental wage increases, or the simple benevolence of an ever-rotating roster of store managers. What we are saying is that this is simply not enough.
Recognizing that the landscape of working life (particularly in retail) has changed, we are taking a unique approach to organizing and being creative with a variety of tactics.
Through the Retail Action Network, we’re excited to engage retail workers and draw solidarity from across the entire industry: from both unionized and non-unionized workers. Our campaigns will focus on winning victories for individual workers that have been mistreated by their employer, as well as pushing for changes to policies within individual workplaces. What is exciting here is that this will provide non-unionized workers the chance to be a part of collective direct actions, and will showcase to them the clear benefits of working together and organizing to overcome mistreatment at work. As such, we believe this project will be instrumental in mobilizing a worker’s movement, while working cooperatively with an already established union movement.
On behalf of all of us at the Retail Acton Network, we are excited to make great new gains for Victoria’s retail and service sector workers. Please get in touch if you’d like to be involved, know of any lousy employers, or to offer suggestions for this new project.
Eric Nordal is an organizer with the Retail Action Network. You can get in touch with them at Eric@RetailAction.ca or by phone at 250-812-3724