Australian employers hit back at The Modern Retail Industry Awards, released today by the Australian Industrial Relations Commission.
The National Retailers Association (NRA) Executive Director, Gary Black said the new awards were a disaster for thousands of businesses in the retail sector.
“Small and medium sized retailers, who can least afford additional costs, will be facing wage increases of up to 20%, commencing from 1 January 2010. Retail flat lined this year and things are expected to worsen next year as the impact of the falling dollar means retail prices will have to rise. Add to this mix higher employment costs and you’ve got a recipe for major job losses. The hopes of a recovery in growth for the retail sector in the latter half of 2009 is now certain to be quashed, as retailers will be forced to reduce employment and increase prices just to stay afloat,” he said.
Mr Black added, “The fast-food sector, one of the largest employers of young people, will be among the worst hit by the modern awards, leaving them no option but to cut jobs.”
Restaurant & Catering Australia, the peak national organisation representing the interests of Australia’s 40,000 restaurants, cafes and caterers suggests that the new awards will ‘lead to absolute carnage in the industry’.
Peter Doyle, President of Restaurant & Catering Australia said, “There is nothing modern about this award. It has provisions dating back to the six o’clock swill and archaic penalty rates on Sundays – It will see thousands of businesses rendered unviable and an estimated 8,000 job losses’. So much for protecting the interests of working families.”
Mr Doyle said a report prepared for the Association by KPMG Econtech demonstrated 8,000 job losses based on the draft award which was then unchanged in the final award released today.
The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) has called for a re-think of new employment regulation in national industrial awards in the face of business unrest in the retail and hospitality sectors at the prospect of higher wages, penalty rates and red tape.
In a statement released to the media the ACCI said: “In the name of a regulatory clean-up, the process is leading to more employment regulation and higher employment costs in some areas, especially in service industries. The government risks losing the confidence of those employers in its plan to reactive the award system. Today’s decision is more than just ‘some wins, some losses’ from redesigning regulation. The extent of the cost increases from 2010 are unacceptable and not what the government promised.”