Junior pay debate continues


employment, jobA retail lobby group has seized on rising youth unemployment figures to argue against a union push to scrap junior wage rates.

The Shop Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association (SDA) is campaigning for 20-year-olds to be paid the same rate as 21-year-olds, as a first step to having all employees aged over 18 paid the adult rate.

This year the union launched a case to scrap junior rates in the Fair Work Commission.

But the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) on Thursday said latest youth unemployment figures reinforced its stance against any changes.

Australian Bureau of Statistics figures for October show the youth unemployment rate (for those aged between 15 and 24) increased by 0.3 percentage points to 13 per cent.

“Retailers and young Australians have been reliant on pay rates to enable retail to bring on low-skilled young staff and increase their skill levels,” ARA executive director Russell Zimmerman said.

“If the case made by SDA is successful, young employees will find it extremely difficult to find vital training and development opportunities.

“Today’s announcement that youth unemployment is extremely high only reinforces the importance of junior wage rates to the success of the retail sector.”

Comment is being sought from the SDA.


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