WITH recent retail sales showing a weak trading environment for retailers, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) proposes a 1.9 percent minimum wage increase to bring balance back into such a difficult operating environment.
Russell Zimmerman, Executive Director of the ARA, said Australian retailers are continuing to face an overwrought market and an increase in line with inflation is the best way to preserve employment within the retail sector.
“Given the constant rise in rental prices, energy costs and slow retail growth, this 1.9% 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, therefore this year’s minimum wage review needs to benefit both employers and employees working in the sector.”
With many of Australia’s best-known retailers facing re-structuring and store closures, the ARA have consulted their membership base in order to make their recommendation.
Numerous small, medium and large retailers have told the ARA that an increase in the minimum wage beyond 1.9 percent would be detrimental to their businesses, leading to negative impacts 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 (FWC) acknowledge the volatile economic trading conditions when making their decision,” Mr Zimmerman said.
The ARA’s 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.
“We trust the FWC will determine the best federal minimum wage increase during this shifting period where large sectors of the economy are either in decline or receiving minimal growth.”
To view the ARA’s Minimum Wage submission to the FWC, click here.
About the Australian Retailers Association:
Founded in 1903, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) is Australia’s largest retail association, representing the country’s $310 billion sector, which employs more than 1.2 million people. As Australia’s leading retail peak body industry, the ARA is a strong pro-active advocate for Australian retail and works to ensure retail success by informing, protecting, advocating, educating and saving money for its 7,500 independent and national retail members throughout Australia. For more information, visit www.retail.org.au or call 1300 368 041.