Wage hikes a threat to retailers

ARA_w250The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has called for a realistic and manageable minimum wage increase at $10.50 per week in its submission to Fair Work Australia’s Federal Minimum Wage review

In a statement released by the ARA, executive Director Russell Zimmerman said Fair Work Australia’s (FWA) Minimum Wage Panel must consider the impact of wage bill increases as a result of the Award Modernisation process, as well as retailers’ plans to cut staff hours to cope with rising employment costs.

“The ARA strongly recommends Fair Work Australia (FWA) hands down a minimum wage increase that is realistic and reasonable and one that considers continued recovering trading conditions and wage bill increases for Award reliant industries,” Zimmerman said.

Over 41 per cent of retailers had told the ARA changes to IR laws would mean reducing staff hours, he said, with over 46 per cent of retailers planning on decreasing casual staff levels, 39 per cent planning on decreasing part-time staff levels and over 36 per cent planning on decreasing permanent staff levels over the next 12 months. Zimmerman described the figures as a direct indication of retailers’ “limited capacity to pay escalating wage bills during a period of continued recovery.”

“Retail trade has been patchy and below expectations for the past eighteen months. Over 63 per cent of recently surveyed retailers said the Christmas and post-Christmas sales seasons they’ve just experienced were worse than the previous year, indicating a pull back from consumers after successive interest rate rises at the end of 2009 and without the help of a Government stimulus package*.

“Recent announcements from unions calling for unmanageable minimum wage increases disregard the wage bill increases that award reliant industries are already facing as a result of the Award Modernisation process.
“Work Australia must look forward, not backwards when considering the Federal Minimum Wage for 2010 and make a decision that protects jobs – not one that threatens them,” Zimmerman said.

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