Union advocates are attempting to secure an increase in minimum wages, however the Australian Retailers Association has said this move is ignoring the bigger picture and is in fact putting the jobs of casual and part time retail sector employees on the line.

ARA executive director Russell Zimmerman said ARA was calling for an industry- specific exemption from any increase in the minimum wage to maintain employment in a sector already struggling to give much needed hours to those reliant on the retail sector for flexible work arrangements.

“The retail industry is known for offering flexible hours for those who need to fit work around their other life commitments such as family and study. This includes part time hours and work on weeknights, Saturdays and Sundays.

“Unions are more concerned about securing a wage increase for permanent employees, who are their bread and butter in terms of membership subscriptions, however they need to look at the bigger picture and see that further wage pressure put on the retail sector will result in more store closures and job losses. The cost of doing business in Australia is rapidly spiralling out of control and further wage increases will only exacerbate that situation.

“Many retailers are everyday Australians putting in an honest day’s work to bring home money to their own households. But the fact is Australian retailers face some of the highest costs and regulatory barriers in the developed world when it comes to operating even the smallest of businesses.

“Retailers want to keep providing decent jobs and work life balance to the 1.2 million people who work for them, but more wage pressures will act as a disincentive to employing low skilled, part time and casual workers- the very people within the economy who need to retain flexible employment,” Zimmerman said.