A Harvey Norman-owned company has put out a call for “volunteer” sales assistants, despite the parent company enjoying skyrocketing profits up 160% during Q1 of the 2020/21 financial year.

The School Locker – which is a joint business venture between Gerry Harvey (the Harvey Norman dude) and former Harvey Norman chief information officer Kaine Escott – has been called out on social media for asking for free labour, and rightfully so.

“Due to the increase in customer traffic over the busy back to school period we’re looking for in-store parent volunteers to assist families with school uniform purchases,” a flyer for The School Locker read, according to the Clarence High School newsletter.

The School Locker is a BUSINESS owned by BILLIONAIRE Gerry Harvey. If his stores are busy he can HIRE MORE STAFF and PAY…

Posted by Brian Mitchell MP – Federal Member for Lyons on Saturday, November 21, 2020

According to the flyer, volunteers are to be compensated with an in-store credit voucher (the dollar amount of the voucher was not stated), but would be required to hold a Working With Children’s check.

It is unclear if the flyer was distributed to other school newsletters, or if the Clarence High School poster was an isolated incident. But at least one store was calling for unpaid volunteers.

KEH Partnership Pty Ltd – trading as The School Locker – reported a trading loss of $11.4 million in the 2019 financial year, after a loss of $7.1 million the previous year. So, it doesn’t look like the company is particularly profitable at this stage, but that’s not really an excuse for ads essential asking for free labour.

There’s no suggestion that Harvey had any personal involvement with this particular ad and it’s unknown if he’s actively involved in The School Locker at all, but he is one of the company’s directors and does have considerable personal wealth.

It was mere months ago that Gerry Harvey was boasting to the SMH about how it’s been the best year in business he’s had in over sixty years in the industry, which makes this alleged call for free labour incredibly questionable.

“It’s an enormous result, and in all the time I’ve been in retail…I’ve never been in a time like this,” he said back in August.

If you were wondering exactly how good of a year it has been for Gerry Harvey, Harvey Norman released their sales figures ahead of Wednesday’s AGM, which outlined that profits are up 160.1% for the July 1 to October 31 sales period.

Oh, and did I mention that a number of Harvey Norman stores qualified for JobKeeper, which essentially means that some stores could be paying two-fifths of fuck all in labour costs?

According to Forbes, Harvey – personally – is worth a quiet $1.8 BILLION USD. If we convert that to Australian dollars, Mr Harvey is worth $2.45B, which means he could well and truly afford to pay these volunteers.

PEDESTRIAN.TV has reached out to The School Locker, Clarence High School and FairWork Australia for comment.

Image: The School Locker / Channel 9