Retailers reject union boss’s demands

The National Retail Association (NRA) has rejected the policy package outlined by the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) secretary Sally McManus at the National Press Club on Wednesday, saying it would be “crippling” for 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: “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.

“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:

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

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 per cent loading which is there to cover things such as sick pay and annual leave,” Ms Lamb said.

“The independent FWC – 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.

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