ColesWorth EBAs ruining small Sunday towns

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TTN Editorial, 1st July 2015

Peter Strong of the Council of Small Business of Australia has launched a national offensive against the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association that bargained for Coles & Woolworths employees to work at a 150% Sunday rate whilst small businesses have to pay double time for the same workers. The Enterprise Bargaining Agreements have resulted in the killing off of small towns as traders can’t afford to open Sundays and therefore can not compete with ColesWorth. Sundays represent a large portion of domestic tourism’s drive markets.

Strong also takes aim at ‘corporate landlords who manipulate urban planning to favour large-scale shopping developments’. Strong is referring largely to Westfield and Stockland.

Regarding what Strong refers to as the landlord’s manipulation, The Tourism News’, and our parent company Australian Voice’s opinion is that local councils and state members of parliament have a responsibility to the public to make business doable in the regions.

The development of culture-based regulatory frameworks, such as ones that make it easier for landowners on main streets to maintain buildings, and the relaxation of local and state regulation regarding hospitality, entertainment and tourism are all in the hands of your local government representatives – councillors and state politicians.

In any small town, the local pub owner/s, the nicest eateries and the discretionary retailers have the will of the people on their side: to maintain a culture in that town, a culture that’s nice to visit, and one that contributes to healthy tourism in that area.

Councillors and state members, threatened with the loss of their seat if they don’t help the town’s culture, will step up to the challenge of saving their Australian small town.

The tourism industry has more power collectively than it cares to recognise. Australian Voice and The Tourism News hope to change that.

Small business chief Peter Strong slams Coles, Woolworths EBA

From The Australian, 1st July 2015

The nation’s largest union has joined with the supermarket duop­oly to preserve its own political power and enhance the ­market share of Coles and Woolworths, the head of Australia’s peak small business lobby warns.

Council of Small Business of Australia chief Peter Strong claims enterprise agreements nego­tiated by the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees’ Assoc­iation with the supermarket giants are undercutting the ability of small operators to ­compete.

In a speech to the National Press Club in Canberra today, he will accuse the industrial umpire of approving this practice and condemn it as out of touch, likening the body to a modern era House of Lords.

Mr Strong accuses the SDA of paying Coles and Woolworths up to $5 million a year as a “commission” for the employers deducting union fees from members’ pay packets and demands an ­investigation into the practice.

The relationship between the industrial umpire, unions and big business is likened to a cartel, Mr Strong also taking aim at corporate landlords who manipulate urban planning to favour large-scale shopping developments.

Under the general retail award, penalty rates are set at double time for “all hours worked on a Sunday”. But the 2012 nat­ional Woolworths/SDA enterprise agreement sets penalty rates at time-and-a-half from 6am to 9pm on Sunday. This is replicated in the agreement with Coles.

Mr Strong’s address is a call for the government to remove the impediments to small business growth contained within the industrial relations and competition frameworks.

While a small business stimulus package — including a 1.5 per cent tax cut and instant $20,000 asset write-off — made up the centrepiece of this year’s budget, Mr Strong is trying to broaden the debate. He argues for a new independent body to give a voice to local business owners in key economic planning decisions and a dilution of the power of big business and unions.

“We know that over 90 per cent of SDA members are to be found in Wesfarmers and Woolworths or their subsidiaries,” Mr Strong says. “The SDA fought long and hard to get double time on Sundays and then negotiated an agreement with Coles and Woolworths that saw their members receive time-and-half on Sundays.

“(This was) a decision that meant small businesses didn’t open on Sundays, giving the duop­oly greater market share and increasing SDA membership.”

Mr Strong attacks the opaque nature of the Fair Work Commission, saying it is composed of a “very large group of commissioners who lord it over all and sundry” and who fail to “take reality into account”.