Image Source: Barossa Herald
By Giorgina McKay | @ggmckay11
Proposal for deregulation of shop trading hours by the Liberal Party has caused concern among retail workers and small businesses.
The party has said this would be a major boost for retailers, workers and consumers in South Australia.
“As part of our Strong Plan for Real Change for more jobs, lower costs and better services, we will bring South Australia’s archaic shop trading hours into the 21st century,” Premier Steven Marshall said.
“We [the Liberal Government] will deregulate shop trading hours, removing restrictions on retailers on when they can and what kind of goods they can sell on public holidays.
“South Australian businesses and consumers want choice, and deregulation of shop trading hours will create more jobs and opportunities for workers in the State’s retail sector.”
However, Jordan Mumford, of the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association (SDA), said deregulating shop trading hours would have a negative impact on South Australian workers.
“Essentially what the Liberal Party’s proposal means is that South Australian workers will be forced to work longer hours, leaving less time for them to spend with their friends and families,” Mr Mumford said.
“I’m still a casual employee at Coles and there’s no doubt if I was forced to work some of those ridiculous hours, I wouldn’t be too excited about it.”
Mr Mumford also mentioned the concerning change to penalty rates.
“One of the biggest arguments is that if we open on more public holidays, late nights and weekends, then people will get penalty rates and it will all be fantastic,” he said.
“The Federal Government has done nothing on the cuts to penalty rates, so people will just be working more hours for less pay,” he said.
A recent McKell Institute survey found the majority of respondents agreed with the SDA.
53 per cent of respondents were satisfied with the current trading hours legislation and were not in favour of deregulation.
Another 40 per cent of respondents were opposed to deregulation if it meant the larger chains would grow at the expense of smaller, independent chains.
But it is not just employees who will be affected; small businesses may be at risk too.
57 per cent of small business owners agree with the current market hours, with only 27 per cent wanting to change.
According to Mr Mumford, small businesses have rallied behind the SDA’s campaign to stop longer trading in a big way.
“The reality is the biggest components of deregulating retail trading hours is not the workers or consumers, it’s big businesses,” he said.
“It’s the Woolworths and Coles, who already have nearly 60 per cent of the retail market here in South Australia, that are really excited to see extended trading hours because they’ll be able to expand their market share and drown out the smaller competitors.”
Currently shops bigger than 400 square metres have to close at 5pm on the weekend under the Shop Trading Hours Act 1977.
This rule does not apply to smaller independent retailers, such as IGA, who can trade until 9pm.
If deregulation is approved, Mr Mumford said the SDA would continue to campaign.
“The SDA will still keep campaigning around shop trading hours, and will try to put pressure on the Liberals to not adopt this policy,” he said.
“Just because shops are open for more hours doesn’t mean people have more money in their pockets to spend.”