Following our strong criticisms of the truncated consultation process for the Federal Government’s “Secure Jobs, Better Pay” Bill, the National Retail Association was pleased to leverage our significant workplace relations expertise to reflect the views of the industry in its comprehensive submission to the Senate Inquiry last week. A copy of the NRA’s submission is available here.

The National Retail Association conveyed to the Inquiry that retailers rely on the efforts of their dedicated staff for their success. Particularly for small businesses, this success is very much a partnership between business owners and those they employ. We expressed deep concern that the multi-enterprise bargaining provisions of this Bill will cause irreparable damage to workplace relationships in many small businesses across the nation. It will pit business owners and their staff against one another, fighting battles that are not of their making and that they are not able to resolve within their own enterprises. This is a recipe for industrial and economic discord on a scale not seen in Australia in living memory.

Unsurprisingly, 64.5% of all respondents to the NRA’s survey on the Bill said they did not support the Bill and a further 24.6% said they did not understand the Bill.

In our view,  the overall impact of the Bill will be to take Australia backwards by several decades – back to before the bold and visionary Accord of the 1980s and the subsequent drive towards genuine workplace bargaining that recognises the individual circumstances and needs of each business and its employees.

The Bill was rushed through the House of Representatives last week but through effective advocacy, we are hopeful that crossbench Senators hear the National Retail Association’s strong calls for the multi-enterprise bargaining provisions to be omitted from the Bill to allow for deeper consultation and consideration of these significant reforms.