Wage rises could mean cuts to staff

RETAIL and hospitality jobs are at risk with changes to the Industrial Awards announced by the Federal Government this week.

Federal leader of the Nationals Warren Truss visited Coffs Harbour yesterday to discuss how these changes would affect business with the Coffs Harbour Fisherman's Co-op general manager Phillip Neuss.

“This means increased costs for us,” Mr Neuss said.

Mr Neuss said on Sunday wages alone increased running costs by up to $260 at the Wild Harvest Restaurant in Marine Drive.

In the short term, the difficult times will make the increased wages very difficult for small businesses. Mr Neuss said that options such as a Sunday surcharge may need to be considered to cover costs, as well as a 10 per cent increase in meal costs.

“The retail and hospitality sectors are a substantial employer on the North Coast. If wages increase by more than 20 per cent, businesses will either shut or business owners will have no other choice but to cut staffing levels,” Mr Truss said.

“The government must do everything they can to protect jobs. Increasing wages by more than 20 per cent will do nothing other than increase the unemployment rate.”

The Rudd Government has told the Australian Relations Commission to reduce the number of Awards, to modernise the process. The Government has given the AIRC an impossible task by telling them that while modernising the award wage that no employee can be worse off and there are no extra costs to businesses.

The Australian Retailers Associate predicts that the new awards will increase labour costs up to 22 per cent. In the hospitality sector, it is expected to be higher.

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