COSBOA today called for a Senate Inquiry into impact of SDA Enterprise Agreements on competition and workplace relations in Australia.
Peter Strong, CEO, COSBOA stated today “We cannot have a fair innovative and diverse business sector if we do not get the fundamentals right. This not only includes Workplace Relations but also tax, health, competition policy, communications, technology and business financing. These policy areas all interact and we at COSBOA work closely with regulators to make the system easy for the great majority of honest small businesses. We also work with regulators to target and deal with the unscrupulous few. Workplace Relations underpins trust and we must make sure the system isn’t gamed for the benefit of the few, particularly big unions and big businesses.”
Mr Strong added “the current angry debate around penalty rates has come from the nature of the Enterprise Agreements negotiated by the retail union over the last 6 years. These agreements have changed the conditions of weekend workers so that they receive lower than award penalty rates. An Ernst & Young report from January 2016 showed that 56 per cent of workers were underpaid on one agreement, often by large sums.”
“This has given big businesses a leg up when it comes to competing on weekends as small businesses still have to pay the higher rates and many have not opened as a result. It has made competition difficult if not impossible. It removes choice for consumers while paying lower wages for workers in big business, how did this happen?” Mr Strong said.
The issue is that small business has to fully comply with awards and big business do not.
Mr Strong further added “Unions are running a campaign that business and the government are against penalty rates, which we are not, and are ignoring the fact that one of their biggest unions has already removed penalty rates for many and created situations where small business is disadvantaged.”
“The facts are important and a Senate inquiry can put the focus on facts while we get back to business.”
COSBOA was set up in 1977 to solely represent the small business community. We are not compromised by membership from big businesses and we can be an advocate without worrying that our larger members will resign. The union and the large businesses involved in a Senate inquiry may be concerned they could be fined or forced to pay millions of dollars in back pay but the truth is important for individuals and for the economy.