The National Retail Association (NRA) has today rejected the policy package outlined by ACTU secretary Sally McManus at the National Press Club today, saying it would cripple small business.

In her address, Ms. McManus took specific aim at employers hiring casual workers and attacked the independent Fair Work Commission (FWC).

NRA CEO Dominique Lamb said that retail is currently undergoing a challenging period and any further burdens would have a crippling effect on small business owners.

“Australian retail is currently experiencing a challenging period, evidenced by the sluggish sales figures released in the last two ABS retail trade reports and further burdens would have a crippling effect on the sector,” Ms. Lamb said.

“Mum-and-dad small business owners are the engine room of the Australian economy and are already having to grapple with soaring electricity costs and increased wholesale prices.

“The NRA would prefer to see policies that assist Australian retailers to compete in a changing environment, including the following:

  • Company tax rates that encourage investment and are internationally competitive;
  • Penalty rates that strike the right balance between what is fair and affordable; and
  • A reduction in unnecessary red tape that burdens business and stalls growth.”

The ACTU’s Change the Rules campaign is seeking to give casual workers the option of converting to permanent positions after six months of working with the one employer.

“Casual employees receive a 25 percent loading which is there to cover things such as sick pay and annual leave.

“The independent Fair Work Commission – which was set up under the previous Labor Government – has already rejected a move to force employers to convert casual employees to permanent positions after six months.

“The NRA respects the ruling of the independent umpire and we call on the ACTU to do the same.”