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.”




  1. Team member posted on September 12, 2014

    Why not get rid of fat cats in the company such as the CEO and overpriced bimbo's like Jennifer instead of taking it from hard working team members that helped Myer survive for over 100 years. Also team members should all get paid for selling that's their job and not paid extra for whom sells more. The competitive system devalues hard working team members.

  2. Team member posted on September 12, 2014

    I would like to add to Mr Brooke's how much would you pay the team member that works hard to set up the floor and have everything ready for the quality person to sell. I think we have sufficient primadonna's that come in and do nothing but sell and get paid generously.

  3. Philip S posted on September 12, 2014

    Maybe Mr Brookes should take the lead and settle for a 22.5% pay cut in line with the Meyer profit decline?

  4. Stuart Bennie posted on September 12, 2014

    A Nordstrom system ? Yes- it works well for them in the USA but pie in the sky for Australia. Here mateship and teamwork is what it is all about. Stuart Bennie.

  5. Harry Rimmer posted on September 12, 2014

    Won't make much difference, there don't seem to be many staff in the stores anyway.

  6. Christine posted on September 12, 2014

    Here's an idea Bernie. How about existing base wages (which let's face it are still pretty crook even with Fair Work legislation) plus a standard bonus /share of profits scheme based on company performance right across the business, for everyone from the guy on the loading dock to the CEO. You might improve sales and customer service, plus make everyone in the business think about reducing costs at the same time.

  7. Mike Leask posted on September 12, 2014

    You can't beat a system that rewards success and effort. However in the US there is less of a safety net for low paid and exploited workers than in Australia. What Bernie Brooks is suggesting is that because of strict industrial laws and an a lack of flexibility, there is little profit motive left to reward staff for higher levels of performance and success. When 125% Saturdays, 200% Sundays and 250% public holidays, there is little profit left to incentivise staff. The Union concept of "an equal days pay for an equal days work" assumes that all staff have an equal level of productivity. This can quickly be realised when all staff lack any productivity, which many customers of Myer will attest to. In my own experience, it is amazing how involved and proactive staff become when they share in the profits of their efforts. Team results and team bonuses create harmonious relationships and tend to allow poor performers to choose to move onto other endeavours when they don't share in the success. In my past businesses, I included merchandising staff and sales staff in bonuses I order to create collaboration which produced the maximum results. It is certainly harder for big businesses to create this situation though. There is nothing wrong with rewarding success, provided safety nets exist to prevent exploitation. How this is achieved in a rigid industrial environment is the problem. Change is the answer!

  8. Jennifer Williams posted on September 12, 2014

    The problem with Myer hasn't been the staff, it has been the lack of staff, which is a decision made by management. Now that Myer has started to increase the number of sales people in stores and you can actually find someone to check out your purchases, or get assistance, I am sure they will do a lot better. Myer now need to get the message out to the people who gave up them that staff levels have improved. Despite the structural changes in retail, which have made it a challenging sector, the basics still need to be done properly and it is up to managers to ensure that happens. Brookes can't pass on blame for Myer's performance, he needs to remember that the buck always stops with him, otherwise how can he justify his own income.

  9. Max posted on September 12, 2014

    I agree with Mike Leask. Change is definitely needed and a better model for all is the only forward - not just for top executives but across the organization for all employees. The American model may not be suited for Australia but it could be the basis for a better system. From a customers' point of view what's currently in place is delivering a shocking experience. It's no wonder Myer's profits slid 22%. What's utterly dumbfounding is Joe de Bryun's comments that we shouldn't radically change a system because it's been in place for 100 years. Wake up Joe it's the 21st Century not the Middle Ages. What isn't or hasn't been radically changed by technological disruption. I know I wouldn't want Joe representing me if I was in a union. He must be an ultra conservative old dude with his head buried in the sand.

  10. lew hoek posted on September 12, 2014

    pay staff the same percentage bonus that is paid to the executives annually, lets share equally its interesting that even when companies make a loss the top boys wages continue to grow. Before you look at performance based salaries try putting some more staff on the selling floors as the lost sales ratio is one of the biggest factors with the poor results. Cutting staff costs has dramatically reduced the companies ability to provide service which has created a massive trade loss wake up Myers your to focused at reducing overheads.

  11. Fester Elmer posted on September 15, 2014

    went down to Myer in Melbourne CBD last week - Not one staff member in the small electrical/coffee machine area - had to make a scene with the one staff member that was around , in order to get served . also made sure that the store management was fully aware that the lack of staff on the shop floor is what is driving customers away . Two other people approached the counter while I was there , also asking where the staff were . just a pathetic approach to customer service .

  12. lew hoek posted on September 17, 2014

    Bernie, try doing an under cover boss and check out what is happening at ground level you may be very surprised I had the pleasure of running a department store in Perth with a wage percentage of 6.9 % with the correct staff levels to show good growth every year this was due to the ability to move staff around as required which ever department needed the extra staff worked wonderfully well no loss of sales or service. You really need to educate your management team as your loss sales ratio through my own visitations to your stores in suburban regions will run into 10 to 20% a small staff increase where needed would regain the majority of that, not telling you how to suck eggs but this issue is obvious to the majority so surely the powers to be must be able to see this{please note I also had my own retail consultancy business now retired }.

Comment Manually


The worst case scenario for many retailers came to fruition on Monday afternoon, when Victorian Premier Daniel Andr…

4 days ago

Retail in Melbourne to be forced to close from 11:59pm this Wednesday. Contactless click-and-collect and online del…

5 days ago

Macca's stores around the world are getting a makeover. We go behind the scenes with the design agency that created…

6 days ago