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Industry-wide bargaining would hurt SME retailers, peak body warns

Proposed industry-wide bargaining would create an “inequitable, unsuitable, and ultimately redundant” bargaining system, according to a retail industry position paper released today.

The National Retail Association analysis of the proposed changes says they would create an enterprise bargaining system that was “simply blind to the intricacies and individualities of independent businesses and their employees”.

“Industry-wide bargaining is not a targeted or means-tested approach. It is a ‘one-size fits all view which will see groups of employers and employees left behind,” it says.

“Industry-wide bargaining would see small and medium-sized employers, who otherwise would rely on modern award entitlements, forced to engage in the time and cost of bargaining, or face being subject to agreements bargained for by other businesses which may be prejudicial or detrimental to their business.”

Such a scheme would not make any allowance for the size of a business, the needs of its employees, the different conditions and roles of different businesses, or even the cost of engaging in bargaining.


NRA Interim Chief Executive Lindsay Carroll said the position paper outlined a range of serious concerns for business and showed the proposed changes would set workplace relations backward by several decades.

“The whole point of enterprise bargaining is to reach an agreement that suits both the individual business owner and employees while ensuring everyone is better off overall,” Ms. Carroll said.

“And most importantly, it needs to be voluntary, not a process in which one side is forced into an agreement that doesn’t suit them.

“For those who prefer an industry-wide arrangement, the Fair Work Act has existing mechanisms to allow for that. So not only is this proposed approach unfair, it’s also completely unnecessary.

“On behalf of retailers and the hospitality industry, the NRA calls on the Government to preserve the integrity of the enterprise bargaining system, especially its voluntary nature.”


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