The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has proposed to allow Homemakers Furniture & Sleepzone Bedding retailers to collectively bargain

Homemakers is a buying, advertising and marketing group which currently has 55 members across Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia.

Homemakers is seeking authorisation to collectively bargain with suppliers of furniture and bedding as well as providers of advertising and marketing services. The proposed arrangements also include services such as insurance and finance as well as transport and distribution services.

According to Homemakers, the ability to collectively bargain with suppliers will help it to better compete with larger, better resourced retailers.

ACCC chairman Rod Sims said the proposed collective bargaining arrangements are likely to result in cost savings for members and suppliers, as well as operational efficiencies for suppliers and manufacturers.

"Given competition at the retail level, any savings generated from the proposed arrangements may be passed on to consumers in the form of lower prices," he said.

The ACCC considers that the level of anti-competitive detriment which may result from the collective bargaining arrangements is negligible, if any, particularly as the group is small compared to the total number of furniture and bedding retailers in Australia.

The ACCC also notes the absence of any proposed collective boycott activity means that a collective agreement will only be reached where it is in the interest of both parties to the negotiation.