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Brookes wants pay restructure


bernie_hawkins_myerIn Bernie Brookes’ ideal world, Myer staff would be paid according to what they sell, rather than the rates set down in their workplace agreement.

The Myer chief is yearning for a more “laissez faire” industrial relations environment that would help the department store lift its customer service and sales.

Brookes would like to replicate the model of US retailers like Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus, which are well known for their customer service.

Workers at those stores receive a base pay plus a percentage of sales, which provides incentive to sell more, something that is impossible under Australian workplace laws.

“Now under the Australian Fair Work legislation we are unable to structure our wage payments in that form. In an ideal world we’d like to see that change,” he said on Thursday.

“Generally, less government intervention for us is better.

“In a laissez faire environment we would like the opportunity to negotiate with our store team to be able to provide them with additional benefits.”

Brookes denied performance based pay would lead to lower wages for staff.

“We are not advocating any reduction in wages at all,” he said.

“We are confident that to attract the right quality people we’d pay them a higher rate of pay.”

But Brookes’ ideal world won’t be coming into existence any time soon, with the Abbott government ruling out changes to workplace legislation during its first term.

In the meantime, Myer is negotiating an enterprise bargaining agreement with its staff.

But Brookes said the retailer had no plans to follow the lead of drinks maker Coca Cola Amatil, which this week secured a pay freeze for warehouse workers and introduced a two tier system that will see new workers paid less.

“We are not advocating any reduction in wages at all,” he said.

The union representing Myer workers rejected Brookes’ suggestion of a move to performance based pay, and said the US model was not something to aspire to.

“In the United States, people in the retail industry often cannot earn a living wage,” Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association secretary, Joe de Bruyn, told AAP.

“So this just is not a feasible concept for Australia, it would not be fair and it would be a radical departure to the system that has been in place for over 100 years.”


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