Retailers hit out at union challenge to student working hours

Industry body the Australian Retailers Association has lashed out at a last-ditch union attempt to prevent changes to students’ working hours, claiming that the challenge harms employees and retailers.


The Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association has launched a Federal Court appeal over Fair Work Australia’s decision to amend regulations around working conditions for young people.


Currently employers have to provide a minimum three-hour shift to student workers. The Fair Work decision slashed that minimum to 1.5 hours, with the change set to kick in on October 1.


But the SDA’s legal challenge could scupper the amendments and the ARA says it is appalled by the union’s actions.


Russell Zimmerman, executive director of the ARA, says: “How many times does the union have to be told by a peak industrial relations decision maker that this is a fair and equitable outcome for employers and workers?


“ARA is calling on the union to stop hurting retailers and employees in this tight economic climate.


“I would seriously question whether continuing this battle is in the best interests of SDA members.


“A union which exists to protect employees seems to be intent on taking jobs away from young workers.


“ARA is calling on the SDA to stop the game of political ‘ping pong’ and start working in the interests of students and their employers.”


“The longer the decision is delayed, the more students will be disadvantaged as they are denied the chance to gain valuable employment and workplace skills.


“The decision made last week to allow students to work 1.5 hours had very fair conditions surrounding it, including a requirement for the employee to be a full-time student, the minimum only applying on a school day and only with the express written consent of the employee and their parent or guardian.”


In better news for small retailers, in Melbourne at least, a new network has launched in the Victorian capital to help stores in the CBD.


The Melbourne District Central Network will provide member businesses with education, mentoring, information and networking opportunities, with the aim of promoting Melbourne’s CBD over the lure of suburban retail complexes.


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