Controversial wage decision.

When you argue for a 0% rise in the minimum wage, you’re likely to attract disapproval. Last week the National Retail Association made a controversial submission to the Annual Wage Review which also brought an important conversation to the fore, highlighting how difficult the retail environment is right now.

NRA CEO, Dominque Lamb said in previous years, the organisation has recommended wage rises higher than any other employer group. “We have taken great pride in being one of the most understanding and supportive organisations in seeking a percentage increase that was a true compromise between all parties, that would enable our industry to succeed, grow the economy and employ as many Australians as possible,” she said.

However, its recommendation this year reflected the very difficult nature of Australian retail and was a direct result of retailer feedback.

“Retailers are struggling with soaring electricity costs, increasing wholesale prices and the threat of a Federal Labor Government that wants to use Parliament to force up penalty rates, an extraordinary intervention in what is supposed to be an independent process. At the same time, consumers are becoming far more price sensitive, and can access a wider range of retail goods from around the world.

“They don’t have to accept price rises from Australian retailers driven by increased operating costs, because they can get what they want, when they want, and at a price they want, from overseas retailers who are not contributing to the Australian economy or creating jobs for Australians.”

Lamb said it is easy for the ACTU to throw out a figure of 7.2% increase, that is completely out of touch with the modern retail landscape and impossible for an employer to entertain. A $50 per staffer per week wage increase would mean a small business with just 10 employees would need to find an extra $26,000 per year, she said.