Union concern over extended trading
THE union representing workers in the retail sector has urged the State Government to scrap any plans to extend trading hours because it will not lead to job creation.
In August, Premier Colin Barnett said his Government would allow businesses to open at 9am on Sundays if re-elected at the next state election in 2017.
Two months later, Commerce Minister Michael Mischin proposed allowing an additional seven shopping hours per week.
The changes would mean general retail shops could open at 7am Monday to Saturday and close an hour later on Saturday.
Mr Mischin said the move would provide greater convenience, choice and flexibility for consumers, promote competition and boost employment opportunities in the sector.
But the WA branch of the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association (SDA), which represents more than 23,000 retail workers in WA, has argued against further trading hour extensions.
Branch secretary Peter O’Keeffe said longer trading hours would give big retailers more power and would not result in the creation of more jobs.
He cited Australian Bureau of Statistics labour force statistics which showed the average number of people employed in retail actually fell from 131,000 in 2011 to 129,000 in 2015.
Weekday late-night trading was introduced in 2010 and Sunday trading in 2012.
“Experience has shown that giving the big retailers more market share comes at the expense of smaller retailers, who end up losing business and putting off staff,” Mr O’Keeffe said.
“These jobs are not replaced by positions with the big retailers, which generally stretch their existing workforce over the longer hours, instead of hiring new people.
“This has a huge impact on the family and community lives of retail workers.”
Mr Mischin said the Government’s policy on deregulation was consistent with successive market and competition efficiency reviews and the trend in other states.
“Extended trading hours have been well received by the shopping public,” he said.
“Unfair competition and market share domination is best dealt with by federal competition policy and laws, not by our State Government telling people when they can and cannot shop.”
Mr O’Keeffe said any proposed changes to trading hours should be subject to a full public parliamentary inquiry.