Restaurants and retailers concerned by Award Modernisation

Posted by Editorial on 30th April 2009

Today leading restaurateurs met in Sydney to discuss the impact of proposed Award Modernisation laws, which would see the federal hotels award apply to restaurants.

The meeting, which included prominent industry leaders like Peter Doyle (Peter Doyle at the Quay), Matt Moran (Aria), Con Dedes (Flying Fish), Tonci Farak (Wildfire), Tony Bilson (Bilson’s) and Brien Trippas (AIH), was convened to discuss the way forward for the industry.

The group decided that the highest priority is halting the award modernisation push to have restaurants made respondent to the hotels award.

“This is not what the Government intended, not what hotels want, not what we want and not even what the Union wanted,” Mr Doyle said. “What we need the Government to do is make an award that is truly modern and is right for restaurants in 2009.”

“In Australia, restaurants are a large part of our media and our industry, consisting in total of 77,000 businesses is a major player, yet the Government seems to take very little notice of us,” Mr Doyle contended. “Perhaps that is because we are so diverse and we don’t band together very often – the fact is that this modern award may see an unprecedented unity of our industry.”

The industry is holding similar sessions in Melbourne, Brisbane, the Gold Coast and Adelaide this week. Each session will canvass the view of the local industry leaders and call for unity.

Retailers, too, are concerned about Award changes, with the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) today calling for the introduction of the Modern Retail Award to be deferred for at least 12 months.

ARA Executive Director Richard Evans said that, in the current economic climate, increased wage bills would force over 65 per cent of SME retailers to shed staff.

“Retailers have accepted changes to IR laws including the Fair Work Bill coming into play in July. However, with economic uncertainty and pressure increasing, retailers will not cope with any Award increases in January next year,” he said. “With unemployment at 5.7 per cent and rising, retailers don’t need the pressure of increased labour costs which will force many to cut jobs.”