By Andy Young
Jos de Bruin, the CEO of MGA Independent Retailers has said there is a 'massive downside' to the plans of the Victorian government to make the day before the AFL Grand Final a public holiday.
De Bruin also labelled the increased cost of wages by making the day a public holiday "economic vandalism".
Premier Daniel Andrews' government is considering an additional public holiday for the Friday before the AFL Grand Final and according to MGA this will be catastrophic for small businesses.
De Bruin said: "The Andrews Government might argue that there are social and economic benefits for Victoria by introducing additional State public holidays but there is also a massive downside for employers.
"Should the Friday before the AFL Grand Final become a public holiday, this will cost our members, independent supermarkets and liquor stores, more than $3.2m in additional wages.
"In fact for a full time employee it will cost an additional $28.48 an hour. This is economic vandalism and is simply unsustainable for small businesses, let alone big businesses to absorb."
Mr de Bruin pointed out that a casual adult employee working on a public holiday will receive $52.21 per hour under the retail award. That is almost $14.24 per hour more than working on a normal Sunday. Working a usual shift on the Friday before the AFL Grand Final on a non-public holiday would attract an hourly rate of $23.73 per hour for a casual, but under the pre-election promise by Mr Andrews, a retail employee would receive $52.21 an hour if the Andrews Ministry allows this to happen.
"How can a small independent grocer or liquor store, who is already struggling with high penalty rates, carry this additional cost burden?” Mr de Bruin asked. "This is a poor economic decision at a time when unemployment figures are increasing, productivity levels are declining and there is increasing homelessness amongst young potential casual employees. No small business can carry such a massive financial imposition. The government seems to be ignoring the need to grow job opportunities instead Mr Andrews is destroying them. Let’s hope that the government is realistic when it comes to making the AFL Grand Final Eve a public holiday and let’s hope that common sense will prevail."