Fast-food sector to be hit by “restrictive conditions” as retailers shed jobs: ANRA

Posted by James Ferre on 12th March 2009

The retail sector may have shed up to 8,000 full-time jobs in February, the Australian National Retailers Association said today, while the fast-food sector will soon face a significant rise in labour costs.
The latest unemployment figures released from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show unemployment has risen to 5.2% with 53,800 full-time jobs lost. The retail sector employs 15% of the Australian workforce.

“Retail jobs are the most vulnerable when there is a loss of confidence in the economy,” ANRA CEO, Margy Osmond, said. “The retail slump started well before the December quarter 2008. Retail spending dried up at the beginning of 2008. While the economy was still growing over 2008, and creating 156,000 new jobs, the retail sector was losing 45,000 jobs.”

“We may see another 45,000 retail jobs shed if Federal Treasury’s estimate of 7 per cent unemployment by June 2010 is correct,” Mrs Osmond advised. “We urge the State and Federal Governments not to introduce unnecessary costs which threaten jobs. The retail sector faces significant, overnight increases in penalty rates and casual loadings for hundreds of thousands of employees when the new retail award is introduced from January next year.”

ANRA, which represents a number of Australia’s largest retailers including Coles and Woolworths, is particularly worried about the likelihood of rising costs for small business and the fast-food industry. “The new retail award will increase employment costs by up to 20% for small and medium sized retailers,” Mrs Osmond said. “The fast-food sector will be hard hit by the introduction of high penalty rates of up to 75% and more restrictive conditions. In Queensland, the hourly rates for employees on Sunday will rise by more than 50 per cent.”

“ANRA calls on the Federal Government to direct the Australian Industrial Relations Commission to defer these higher costs for at least 12 months, before a five year phase in period. The retail sector cannot continue to absorb more costs at a time when the economic outlook is so dire,” Mrs Osmond concluded.