Tuesday, May 28, 2024

ARA recommends minimum-wage increase to preserve industry employment

The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has proposed a 1.9 per cent minimum-wage increase aimed at bringing back balance to a challenging trade environment.

ARA Executive Director Russell Zimmerman says Aussie retailers still face a volatile operating market and this increase in line with inflation is the best way to ensure staff retention within the retail sector.

“Given the constant rise in rental prices, energy costs and slow retail growth, this 1.9 per cent increase will allow retail to maintain its position as Australia’s largest private employer,” Mr Zimmerman said. “Last week’s January trade figures highlighted the incessant struggle retailers are facing, so this year’s minimum-wage review needs to benefit both employers and employees working in the sector.”

The ARA consulted its membership base to make its recommendation and found that various small, medium and large retailers believe a minimum-wage increase beyond 1.9 per cent would be detrimental to their businesses, leading to a negative impact for employees.

“The ARA’s submission has outlined the difficult trading environment in the retail sector due to rising cost pressures, unsustainable rents, increasing competition and weak consumer confidence,” Mr Zimmerman said. “With weak sales growth and wage levels well above our international competitors, it’s critical that the Fair Work Commission acknowledge the volatile economic trading conditions when making its decision.”

The ARA noted its position preserves the value of the minimum wage over the recent years, where wages have been outstripped by increasing price growth throughout the industry.

“We strongly recommend this wage increase remains realistic and reasonable for all businesses as our members are constantly experiencing significant cost pressures through international competition and reduced margins,” Mr Zimmerman said.

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