I have worked in retail for 30+ years. I'm also a union delegate for the SDA. I understand how things work, and having been a department manager I can see things from both sides. I know that for a company to grow, it needs to change.
But every time there is a major change, workers lose. We lost with extended trading hours, we lost with 7 day a week trading, and now we stand to lose again with cuts to our wages and penalty rates.
Retail is already one of the lowest paid sectors with a basic wage of just $18 an hour. I'll never be able to buy a house, or a new car. Overseas holidays are just a dream, but I and many of my workmates work where we do because we love the job, we love the people, and heck, we even love the company we work for. We get great satisfaction from doing our job well, helping our customers, and working to make our community better. There are many long term retail workers who are extremely loyal to the companies they work for, large and small, but we've had our hours cut back, we've been forced to work nights and weekends taking us away from our families. We're doing the jobs of 2 or 3 people, and now you want to cut our wages and penalty rates as well?
Retail employs more people than almost any other sector. Surely those people deserve to have their rights protected. OUR rights protected. If you cut the wages of that huge group of people, surely that will mean retail suffers even more, since we'll have less to spend.
I understand online shopping is taking a toll, but surely that's just another challenge for businesses. It's a kind of evolution, if businesses can't adjust to the new way of doing business then they'll fail, but that isn't the fault of the staff. Punishing workers who are not the cause of these challenges will not solve the problems faced by the sector.
If you cut our wages, and take away our penalty rates, then what else is there for us but to leave long term jobs we love and look for employment in other sectors? One girl from work recently left to be a lolly pop lady at roadworks and earns $25 an hour for standing in one place holding a stop sign, and you're saying we are worth less than that?
Who would you prefer to speak to when you want advice on a major purchase: a cheap teenager who is just there to get a little pocket money, or a long serving staff member who has the product knowledge and experience to make sure you get exactly what you need?