ARA declares senate committee report a slap in the face for young retail employees

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The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) released a statement that strongly urges that the Senate Education and Employment Committee’s recommendations in the penalty rates report be rejected.

According to the ARA, the Labor majority on the committee “have no understanding of the penalty rates decision’s positive impact on employment in the retail industry”.

“It baffles us how the Labor members of the committee want to overturn the Fair Work Commission’s penalty rates decision, as for more than a century the government has entrusted this expert industrial body to fairly balance the interests of employers and employees,” ARA Executive Director Russell Zimmerman said.

“It should be noted that the current Fair Work Commission was set up by past prime minister Julia Gillard, while she was Minister for Employment, to be the independent umpire in determining significant employment conditions such as penalty rates.

“We are extremely shocked that the Labor members on the senate committee did not refer to the ARA for any questions about the penalty rates decision, as we have been the peak body association leading this case and its positive impact on employment within the retail industry.”

The ARA states that it had called on both sides of the government to implement the Productivity Commission’s recommendations on penalty rates and wage agreements.

“As enterprise bargaining agreements (EBAs) in the retail industry have fallen to drastic levels, the ARA congratulates the committee on recognising the ineffectiveness of the current EBA system and the BOOT [better off overall]test,” Mr Zimmerman said.

“However, the ARA also notes that the committee has not given any recommendations on how to improve the EBA system and how to get bargaining back on track.

“The current EBA approval system is too inflexible and we urge the committee to provide a more practical bargaining system for the retail industry and its employees.”

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