Harvey Norman had a busy weekend, blocking those who criticised the retail giant about employee wages, as well as sending some odd replies.
Employees protest outside stores
On Friday Harvey Norman employees protested outside of stores in New South Wales, Queensland and Tasmania to demand wage increases.
In 2020 Harvey Norman chairman, Gerry Harvey, referred to the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity. Company profits also rose 116 per cent during the latter half of the year, hitting $462 million.
The company was also awarded $22 million in JobKeeper benefits, which were supposed to subsidise the wages of employees. Despite not needing the subsidies, Harvey Norman has refused to pay that money back.
However, according to The Guardian, the company did say it would be paying $249 million in dividends to shareholders, with Gerry Harvey himself receiving $78 million.
Comparatively, Australians working in retail had to wait an extra seven months for the usual 1.75 per cent award increase.
The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) is now calling for minimum wage to be increased by 3.5 per cent.
“Harvey Norman saw the global pandemic as an ‘opportunity’, doubled its profits, benefited from a delay in the last increase in wages and then refused to pay back JobKeeper,” ACTU Secretary, Sally McManus, said in a statement.
“It’s now time for Harvey Norman to step up and support a 69 cent an hour pay rise. Prime Minister Morrison must also stop supporting big business’ calls for real wage cuts – what the economy needs now is people with money to spend.
“For many workers, a 3.5 per cent increase would make a significant difference after nearly a decade of low wage growth.”
The Harvey Norman Twitter account sure is behaving weirdly
Since the protests, the hashtag #BoycottHarveyNorman has been floating around Twitter, and even trended on Sunday night.
Things escalated when the Harvey Norman account began blocking people criticising the company. This included the ACTU.
“Guess they don’t like hearing about how they oppose minimum wage increases when their profits went up and they pocketed JobKeeper,” the ACTU account tweeted.
Harvey Norman blocked us????
— Australian Unions (@unionsaustralia) May 28, 2021
It was a matter of time pic.twitter.com/SmAFPByXYc
— Sally McManus (@sallymcmanus) May 30, 2021
“We have been blocked on this platform by @harveynormanau for reporting on an event that occurred outside their Hobart store today,” The Tasmanian Times tweeted.
— Tasmanian Times (@TasmanianTimes) May 28, 2021
Regular folk were also blocked by the company.
— Daryl (@DHoriszny) May 30, 2021
Oh not nice Harvey Norman. I'm blocked! I did enjoy picketing your nipaluna Hobart store today though. How about repaying the Jobkeeper Gerry? pic.twitter.com/KUTZofbZ4h
— Scott Plimpton (@lowroader) May 28, 2021
Whoever is running he account sent questionable responses to some users.
The company responded to one user with a facepalm and a waving emoji. In response to another, it simply sent a kiss emoji.
What’s particularly interesting is that the Harvey Norman Twitter account now states that it’s unmanned.
“Twitter is no longer a customer service channel and is unmanned,” the bio reads.
This same line was also sent to some Twitter users.
This is certainly a lot activity on a weekend for a supposedly dead account. And it leads one to wonder who exactly was responding to and blocking people.
While some have wondered whether the account has been hacked, you would think that Harvey Norman would have issued a statement by now if that were the case.
Gizmodo Australia has contacted Harvey Norman for comment.