Rates hold a partial release of the pressure valve for small business

Rates hold a partial release of the pressure valve for small business

Small and family businesses have received a welcome reprieve from the Reserve Bank’s aggressive monetary tightening campaign following today’s decision to hold the cash rate at 4.1 per cent.

Despite the decision to hold steady, the bank has signalled that it may continue to squeeze Australia’s economy further as it works to bring persistently high inflation under control.

“The RBA’s decision to leave the cash rate on hold will act as a partial release of the pressure valve for Australia’s 2.4 million small businesses,” ACCI chief executive Andrew McKellar said.

“The Reserve Bank has rightly kept the cash rate steady, giving it more time to assess the impact of its efforts to dampen economic activity.

“After experiencing 12 interest rate increases, declining consumer spending, and a surge in input costs, small and family businesses are being brought to their knees.

“To add to the pain, many struggling small businesses have seen their wages bill soar from July 1 as the annual wage review and increase to the superannuation guarantee have taken effect.

“While wages growth across the board remains within the central bank’s target range, the risk is that the Fair Work Commission’s determination becomes a floor for wage negotiations across the economy, thus unlocking the floodgates to deep and prolonged economic pain.”

The latest consumer price index data, released last week, revealed a significant deceleration in annual inflation despite the continuation of persistent price pressures in many sectors. Similarly, while the labour market has lost some momentum, it remains incredibly tight.

“Inflation is clearly easing, but much more progress will be needed to bring core inflation to levels that align with the Reserve Bank’s broader target range,” Mr McKellar added.

“To help curb inflation, continued discipline on public spending and tax policy from federal and state governments is required.

Inflation retreat will bring some comfort to small business

Inflation retreat will bring some comfort to small business

Fresh inflation numbers released today will offer some consolation to Australia’s 2.4 million small business owners, many of whom are nearing breaking point as price pressures and elevated interest rates increase the risk of further economic pain.

“After experiencing 12 interest rate increases, declining consumer spending, and a surge in input costs, it’s good news for small businesses that inflation is returning to its downward trend,” ACCI chief of policy and advocacy David Alexander said.

“As supply chain bottlenecks ease, small businesses have experienced a decline in petrol prices while material costs have also steadily decreased from previously high levels.

“Despite this welcome progress, the expected inflation-chasing wages hike from July 1 will heap even more pressure on small businesses when they can least afford it.

“Many small businesses are seeing their costs rise to the point where they have no choice but to increase their prices to maintain operations.

“With further disruption on the horizon as the federal government pursues retrograde changes to the industrial relations system, small businesses across the country are questioning why laws that will make it harder to create new jobs and grow the economy are needed.

“At its meeting next week, the Reserve Bank should take stock of whether rates are sufficiently restrictive to bring inflation back to target.

Business unites to oppose destructive IR changes

Business unites to oppose destructive IR changes

The Australian business community today stands as one with the launch of a national media campaign to raise public awareness of the risks if the Albanese Government implements the so-called ‘Same Job, Same Pay’ industrial relations changes.

The latest upheaval to Australia’s workplace relations regime will lead to lower wage growth and fewer jobs – compounding the plight of workers and families who are already doing it tough.

The so-called ‘Same Job, Same Pay’ proposals does not mean equal pay for men and women.

It does not speak of fairness and justice, as its name falsely represents.

It means by law, employers will have to pay workers with little knowledge or experience exactly the same as workers with decades of knowledge and experience.

It means by law, you cannot earn better pay by working harder or longer, if your colleague does not share your ambition or work ethic.

This retrograde policy will deny Australian workers flexibility and the capacity to be treated individually. It will deny them the opportunity to negotiate more pay for harder work.

‘Same job, same pay’ will take away worker incentive and reduce productivity. This is not fair for workers or their employers. There is a better way, for better pay.

These changes will make it more difficult for small operators to do business with big companies – rendering many service providers simply unviable – while putting significant constraints on companies wishing to expand, construct new projects and infrastructure, or simply manage their operations in their own way.

Businesses of all shapes and sizes need the ability to ramp up and ramp down, as economic conditions require and as opportunities arise. 

Workplace rigidity will ensure these opportunities for growth will either go begging, or companies will be forced to endure a never-ending rollercoaster of hiring and firing as project development, construction and commodity prices rise or fall.

The Albanese Government must put the interests of the community and the broader economy ahead of this overt pursuit of giving more power to unions; a quid pro quo for years of generous support from the movement.

Andrew McKellar, chief executive Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry: 

“Same Job, Same Pay is a misnomer. It’s the opposite of fair by restricting reward for effort and experience. It will take away the flexibility that workers want and businesses need.

“Claims that labour hire workers across the economy are paid less than employees are patently false. On average, labour hire employees are earning more than their permanent counterparts.

“Eliminating flexibility will weaken the economy, punish workers and drive up costs for consumers.”

Samantha McCulloch, chief executive Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association:

“The Australian oil and gas industry promotes fair and equitable pay and working conditions that reward effort and experience across the diverse career opportunities available in the sector.

“The industry is working tirelessly to provide Australian households and industry with reliable, essential energy but needs an industrial relations framework that supports operational flexibility and improved productivity to ensure competitive and affordable gas supply that is needed for Australia’s cleaner energy future.”

Jennifer Westacott, chief executive Business Council of Australia:

“People should be rewarded for their experience and effort, but those laws are going to make it impossible. 

“This is going to really impact on workers who are struggling with cost-of-living pressures and will also make Australia an extremely unattractive destination for people to invest – that means less jobs.

“It will be an own goal for the country and then an own goal for workers because jobs will go somewhere else.”

Matthew Addison, chair Council of Small Business Organisations Australia:

“Small Business seek to reward workers for effort, experience, loyalty and productivity.  We are very concerned that the “Same Job Same Pay” proposal will damage many employer-employee productive relationships.  We seek for Same Job Same Pay to address an identified problem and not have far reaching unintended negative consequences”

Shaun Schmitke, acting-chief executive Master Builders Australia:

“The use of independent and subcontracting within building and construction is a long-standing and legitimate method of engagement because of the phased way in which all building work is performed. 

“As catchy slogans mask the true consequences, the proposed industrial relations changes threaten to strip subbies and independent contractors of their autonomy to be their own boss, negotiate higher wages and conditions, and exercise the right to choose the projects they work on, free from the influence of unions.

“The proposed changes pose a serious threat, introducing uncertainty, commercial risk, and negative consequences for the community, consumers, and an industry already grappling with disruptions, economic uncertainty, and high inflation.

“The policy is not about closing a ‘loophole’ rather it ties the hands of the building and construction industry at a time when communities are crying out for more housing and projects to be delivered.”

Tania Constable, chief executive Minerals Council of Australia:

“How is it fair that someone with six-months’ experience can demand the same pay as someone with six-years’ experience? 

“Our workplaces should be about fairness, reward for effort, and experience. Not a blanket approach that fails to understand that all workplaces are unique and worker ambition and values, varied. Employees should expect to be paid on their experience, skills and qualifications. 

“This dangerous ‘policy is just the latest on a long series of attacks on Australian businesses that have cumulative effect of chasing away investment and jobs, hampering our economic recovery from COVID, and undermining Australia’s role in, and beneficiary of, a once in a multi generation clean energy boom.”

Tony Mahar, chief executive National Farmers Federation:

“Same Job, Same Pay’ would be a red tape minefield for farmers. Most farms are small, family-run businesses which don’t have lawyers or an HR department to turn to.

“It would spell chaos and confusion at peak periods like harvest where contractor numbers on farms can surge 500 per cent for just a few weeks.

“This isn’t about fairness. We can’t pretend every temporary contractor has the same value as a longstanding employee. We should be allowed to reward loyalty and experience.

“At the end of the day, making it more complex and costly to grow food will only make life more expensive for everyday Australians.”

Charles Cameron, chief executive Recruitment, Consulting and Staffing Association

“These changes will slow Australia’s speed to market.  Instead, there will be days of complex audits to determine what the same job is and whether there is even such a thing as a same pay level for that job.

“This law will make Australia stand out for regulatory over-kill and restricted speed to market.  I’m not sure that is the investment brand we are looking for in Australia.”

$12.6 billion wages bill to slug small business

Today’s decision by the Fair Work Commission to increase award wages by 5.75 per cent and minimum wages by 8.6 per cent will slug small and family businesses, already encumbered by soaring costs, with a $12.6 billion wages bill.

Taking account of the 0.5 per cent increase in the superannuation guarantee from July 1, this represents a significant burden for small business, and risks unlocking the floodgates for deep and prolonged economic pain.

“Today’s decision will come as a hammer blow for the 260,000 small and family-owned businesses who pay minimum and award wages,” ACCI chief executive Andrew McKellar said.

“The Fair Work Commission has made a dangerous choice to chase after the supply-side inflation shock that we are experiencing. An arbitrary increase of this magnitude consigns Australia to high inflation, mounting interest rates and fewer jobs.

“Businesses in the accommodation, food, construction, manufacturing, and retail sectors have experienced falling profits over the past two years. The reality is many of the small and family firms in these industries will be unable to absorb this extra cost without raising prices.

“The commission has disregarded the message it conveys to the wider labour market and the influence it holds over entrenching high inflation as the Australian economy faces a worsening outlook in the years ahead.

“A 5.75 per cent increase will make the job of the Reserve Bank more difficult to control ongoing inflationary pressures, inflicting pain on families and small business when they are already down to the wire.

“In our submissions to the annual wage review, ACCI proposed a fair and responsible increase of 4 per cent that aligned with efforts to contain inflation and return it to the Reserve Bank’s target range.