A union’s proposal to eliminate junior wage rates would have severe implications for young workers, locking them out of an opportunity for their first job.

First jobs at junior pay rates are a crucial stepping stone in their development, Australia’s largest and most representative business network said.

ACCI chief of policy and advocacy David Alexander said it was an unrealistic proposal that will make it almost impossible for young workers to get their first job.

“Calls to abolish junior pay rates is another example of the usual ignorance of economics from unions,” Mr Alexander said.

“Having no junior pay rates would make hiring young people far less attractive to businesses.

“Taking on a worker with minimal experience requires extra risk and extra effort – they do not have the work or life experience that older adults have.

“This would be catastrophic for young workers, especially in retail, who would struggle to get a start in the workplace.”

The Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association has submitted the proposal to be debated as a resolution at the ACTU congress in Adelaide.

The union has already proposed resolutions to increase the minimum annual leave days for employees from 20 to 25 days and to introduce a four-day working week.

Mr Alexander said these proposals were as unrealistic as axing junior pay rates.

“Mandating a four-day work week across the economy ignores the unique settings of particular industries or workplaces and would suffocate the already-flatlining productivity rate,” Mr Alexander said.

“Compelling employers to provide another week of leave for employees would be a similarly damaging step.

“At a time when every economist points to declining productivity, the union movement is coming up with ideas to make it worse.

“As we saw in yesterday’s national accounts figures, productivity has stalled, and until we see a real lift, economic growth will remain stubbornly low or even become negative.”

“Proposals like these will only harm our economy more and must be rejected.”

Ashley Gardiner

Director - Media and Communications

P: 0262708020
E: media@acci.com.au

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