Retailers will be hoping for a Liberal win at the Federal elections, according to one of the country’s largest retail recruitment firms.
Retailworld Resourcing works with around 80 per cent of the top 50 retailers in the country. Its managing director, John Caldwell, said a survey it ran with its members turned up an ‘almost unanimous’ backlash against the government’s modern awards policy – a policy Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, implemented in her previous portfolio of Minister for Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.
“The modern awards policy increase wages by 10 per cent or as much as 30 per cent for fast food,” Caldwell said.
“The three-hour minimum shift meant that many employers simply could no longer employ school children.”
Under the current Government, youth unemployment has risen from 12.8 per cent in 2008 to its current level of 16.9 per cent. It’s an issue that hasn’t come through the election campaigning, Caldwell claims, because youth don’t vote.
“Retail is Australia’s largest employer, and if the awards issue wasn’t there retailers might have a very different opinion of the election,” Caldwell said.
“It’s not a case that there’s confidence in Tony Abbott, either, but Gillard’s policies have cost retail. Neither party has directly talked about the industry, and this is disappointing.”
Retail body, National Retail Association (NRA), likewise considers the awards modernisation policy to be an issue.
However, NRA executive director, Gary Black said, as a general rule, both political parties have taken retail concerns into account when lobbied, and overall, retailers aren’t concerned with the upcoming election.
“Retailers are preoccupied with dealing with market trends – instability associated with interest rate reviews and stimulating activity in the market,” Black said.
Recent Bureau of Statistics results suggest a continuing difficult environment for retailers.
June 2010 returned an increased turnover of 0.3 per cent from May. It was already up 0.2 per cent compared with April, which similarly grew 0.2 per cent on March.
Small gains for what Retailworld Resourcing’s Caldwell claims is an environment that has lost a great deal of its profit margins through the awards modernisation policy.