Australia’s peak retail industry body has today blasted the “reckless” campaign being waged on employers by Australian unions, saying it threatens the COVID recovery and thousands of jobs.
National Retail Association Deputy CEO Lindsay Carroll said the union campaign, which includes an advertising campaign and protests in some locations today, was designed to put political pressure on the independent Fair Work Commission.
“The independent umpire has a job to do, and should be allowed to do it without being heavied by the union movement with reckless stunts,” Ms Carroll said.
“The pay rises being demanded by unions will blast a hole in employment numbers and the overall economic recovery.
“The fact is that the economic recovery remains fragile in Australia. While some retailers are doing well, many other small retail businesses are still struggling to keep the lights on.
“We know that thousands have been forced to close their doors in the last years, and after this week’s fresh outbreak in Victoria, we fear that more could follow.
“For the union movement to be campaigning for unrealistic pay rises in retail shows how out of touch union bosses are with the reality of the mums and dads who employ their members.
“When retail stores close their doors, it’s not union officials who find themselves on the unemployment list. This campaign not only threatens the recovery, but it also threatens the jobs of thousands of rank and file union members.
Ms Carroll said the NRA had advocated for a pay increase for retail workers in line with CPI growth. And – given that retail businesses already paid one increase this year, and face a second increase in July due to rising superannuation – the NRA has argued for the next pay rise to take effect from November.
“No-one values retail workers more than those business owners who put their hand in their pocket every week to pay their salaries. But at some point, when those costs rise too quickly, many business owners will be forced to reduce their staff levels or reduce work hours.”