Minimum wages Fair Work Commission

Struggling retailers will be hit with the Australian version of Groundhog Day on February 1 next year, when they wake up to find all their concerns have again been ignored by the Fair Work Commission and they are once again confronted with the spectre of widespread business closures.

Following today’s decision to increase wages by 1.75 per cent, the National Retail Association said while Groundhog Day – traditionally on February 2nd in the United States – was a well known piece of popular culture, it was now going to be visited upon small businesses in Australia a day earlier than normal.

Throughout the Wage Review process, the NRA has advocated that minimum wages should be frozen to allow businesses to recover. Although later joined by other industry groups and government in advocating for caution, the concerns of employers have seemingly fallen on deaf ears.

“We cannot deny that we are disappointed by this decision,” CEO Dominique Lamb said after the decision was handed down today.

“It is hard to reconcile this verdict with the events of the past six months and the current economic climate.”

Speaking of the likely impact of the decision, Ms Lamb said: “The bottom line is that businesses cannot pay money that they do not have and will likely be hit with two wage increases in February and July 2021.

“On February 1 next year, struggling retailers will wake up to find they are in a continuing nightmare, where the Fair Work Commission completely ignores the commercial reality of being in business in Australia today.

“They will wake up to the recurring problem of widespread failure of retail businesses, which will be compounded by wage increases that many simply cannot afford.

“And the story of widespread business failures that has been played out across the country in recent months will start all over again from February 1.

“While the Australian retail industry follows a lot of American trends, the recurring nightmare of an early Groundhog Day is something we could do without.”