As the 2022 federal election approaches, Australian workers are concerned about low job security, high taxes, wage theft and the slow wage growth relative to inflation.
This is what we know about plans by the Liberal and Labor parties to make life easier for retail workers.
Labor policies that affect retail workers
The work is committed to:
Legislate on job safety under the Fair Work Act, which will affect workers in retail, fast food and other workers who have been in casual full-time conditions.
Limit the number of consecutive fixed-term contracts an employer can offer for the same position, with the aim of creating more secure work.
Introduce into law “same work, same pay” for workers who are paid less for doing the same work as another employee. This situation is prevalent in the retail and fast food industry, where the high number of young workers are paid less than older employees performing the same work.
Another big problem for retail workers is wage theft, which is thought to cost Australian workers more than $1 billion every year. Unions plan to make wage theft a “national crime” by taking action against employers guilty of the practice.
Coalition policies that affect retail workers
The Coalition is committed:
$2.8 billion in incentives to train new apprentices and interns in addition to the $7.8 billion this fiscal year to keep apprentices and interns in their jobs in an economy affected by Covid-19.
$3.7 billion to support 800,000 new training positions in various sectors, including retail, and $2.8 billion to train new apprentices and interns.
The Coalition’s ReBoot program also aims to help disadvantaged young Australians find work, including positions in retail and fast food, by developing life and employment skills.
The Coalition’s Skills and Training Boost program also encourages small businesses such as retailers to invest in the skills of their employees and train new ones, with outlets earning less than $50 million a year having access to a 20% reduction in training courses for their employees.
The government also announced that those earning less than $126,000 a year, like many retail and fast-food workers, are eligible for tax compensation of up to $1,500.
“No party serves our workers” – RAFFWU
On who would best serve retail workers, neither the Coalition nor Labor can do the job as a government, according to the Retail and Fast Food Workers Union (RAFFWU) .
RAFFWU Secretary Josh Cullinan highlighted workers’ rights, wages and working conditions, retirement of young workers, casualization of the workforce and safety of young workers as key issues that two parties have not resolved.
He even called for a royal commission into wage theft due to a widespread lack of action by Australian governments.
“There is no significant expansion of workers’ rights proposed by either side. Until 2006, workers had meaningful access to industrial action, including strike action, to secure fair wages and conditions. This has been circumscribed by Workchoices and even greater barriers put in place by the Fair Work Act,” Cullinan said.
“At this time, Coles is refusing to negotiate with workers and unless over 50,000 workers apply to the Fair Work Commission of nearly 1,000 stores, there is no path to negotiation. While we see public sector workers going on strike because their government employers agree to bargain, in the private sector the massive employers of young, precarious, low-paid workers, like at Coles and McDonald’s, can’t even bring their bosses at the table.
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