By James Wells

ADELAIDE: has obtained a letter Radio Rentals wrote to its customers and published using full page advertisements in South Australian newspapers on Saturday.

This is a copy of the letter which was signed by Radio Rentals managing director, Gavin Hancock and was titled: ‘Serving South Australia for 50 years’.

“It is business as usual at Radio Rentals for all our customers and for 97 per cent of our loyal and hardworking staff at all Radio Rentals stores around South Australia.

“Together, we are putting you, our customer, first. That will never change.

“You may have heard about industrial action at Radio Rentals. I want you to have the facts about what is really going on.

“We have 438 staff. A tiny group of 16 service technicians has, with its union, told us and the industrial commission that they will take action, hold weekly rolling strikes  through until June 2008.

“Following this, we advised the 16 and their union that the Company would have no alternative but to lock them out without pay if they took such action.

“At the first rolling strike last Thursday, the 16 walked off the job and consequently the company had no option but to lock them out.  It is a measured, appropriate and legal response to protracted rolling strikes and bans.”

“How did it come to this? Let’s make it clear right at the outset that Radio Rentals never wants to lock out a single employee.

“These 16 employees have a history over many years of unsustainable industrial demands followed by industrial action if the company does not give in to them.

“Over the past two years: Radio Rentals has negotiated a collective employment agreement with the union; The union endorsed the collective agreement; It was put to a vote of this small group of employees who voted to reject it.

“Now this same group is taking industrial action for a collective agreement that they already have rejected!

“This small group continues to be paid significantly above the Award for work performance that is well below that of the industry. Another pay increase without better performance is a cost that Radio Rentals will not pass on to you, our customer.

“The employees rejected the union-endorsed collective agreement. We were aware that many of our technicians were prepared to accept the company’s offer of a fair and balanced agreement so we decided to give them a personal choice. The agreement that they chose to accept provided improved conditions vastly better than what is prescribed in the Award.  It included a pay increase of around four per cent based on achievement of an agreed higher level of performance that is consistent with industry standards.

“Fourteen service technicians have accepted the individual agreements and are at work as normal.

“No-one needed to lose a single dollar of pay. Radio Rentals does not want to lock out its employees. These 16 can return to work as soon as they and the union withdraw the industrial action.

“The actions of the union and these 16 technicians could hurt the company and their 422 colleagues who also rely on Radio Rentals for their livelihood.

“Some say this is something to do with the new Federal Work Choices laws. That is absolutely wrong. Radio Rentals has throughout relied upon and continues to act solely under provisions of the 1996 Federal industrial legislation. Anyone who says otherwise is misinforming the public.

“Radio Rentals commits to continue to provide the biggest and best electrical retail service in South Australia. Our commitment extends to the welfare of our 438 employees who rely on our business for their livelihood.

“Thank you for your continuing support. We look forward to serving you.”