Retail workers across the country will today receive a long-awaited pay rise, as the retail and fast food award wage jumps 1.75 per cent to $21.78 an hour.
The increase was originally scheduled to be implemented last July, but the retail industry was exempt from the original start date due to the inordinate impact the Covid-19 crisis has had on it and the impact it could have on employment.
According to the Shops, Distributive and Allied Employees’ association, the data the FWC used to make this decision had no factual basis, and caused hundreds of thousands of workers to miss out on making more money in a time when people are struggling to make ends meet.
“As a consequence, thousands of retail and other low paid workers who live pay packet to pay packet have, as the FWC admits in its July decision, suffered ‘a decline in living standards’ for the past seven months,” SDA national secretary Gerard Dwyer said, noting these worker lost about $500 each due to the decision.
“To many in the community this may seem like a small amount, but for lower paid workers living from week to week it can make a vital difference in making ends meet. In retail terms, their living standards were cut.”
Many retailers have enjoyed record sales during the last six months, particularly online, as consumer and business confidence recovers and more people spend domestically rather than travel.
According to Dwyer, most did not pass the increase revenue onto staff as a wage increase and instead focused on passing money onto shareholders.
Several businesses did, however, such as Woolworths and Coles. And retailers such as JB Hi-Fi did pass on bonus pay to staff members during the pandemic for keeping the shop floor running for those customers that wanted a bricks-and-mortar experience.