Politics

A Harvey Norman-Owned Company Wants People To Work For Them For Free

Despite record-breaking sales for the parent company, people are being asked to "volunteer" their time.

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The School Locker — a company co-owned by billionaire co-founder of Harvey Norman, Gerry Harvey — has asked for ‘volunteers’ to help with an increase in demand over the back to school period. Now, the company is (rightfully) being called out on social media, with #boycottHarveyNorman currently trending.

A flyer from The School Locker asking for volunteers read “due to the increase in customer traffic over the busy back to school period weโ€™re looking for in-store parent volunteers to assist families with school uniform purchases.โ€

This comes as Harvey self-describes the company’s sky-rocketing profits due to the coronavirus pandemic as “the greatest boom I’ve ever seen in my lifetime”. And earlier this year, he was slammed for suggesting the pandemic was a good business “opportunity”.

The company’s pre-tax profits are up 160 percent to $341.1 million in the first quarter of the 2020/21 financial year. This is because people are redirecting money they would normally spend on travel, eating out, and going out, to their homes — people are redecorating and renovating at record levels.

Harvey Norman’s chief executive, Katie Page, said she expects the increase in sales to last well into the new year: “As Australia opens up even more we’re very confident the next three months โ€“ the end of November, December, January and the back to school period โ€“ will continue to be a good time for our company”.

The company has received $7.6 million in JobKeeper subsidies despite record-breaking sales, as well as $12 million from the New Zealand government.

And while The School Locker made losses in 2018 and 2019, the fact remains the company is owned by a billionaire and is for-profit, yet is asking for volunteers.