Home' Grower : May 2013 Contents PART of the Federal
is the industrial relations
structure built around fair
work. So where has this whole
process taken business and
We recently saw a spike in
unemployment rates but the
way figures get manipulated,
who believes them?
Going by job losses in the
past 12 months, one would
feel Australia's unemployment
rate is far greater than about
5.6 per cent.
The cost of wages and the
add-ons are continuously
increasing while productivity
and profitability is declining.
In addition, Australia is close
to having the highest cost of
employment within OECD
countries, if not throughout
Some issues employers have
to deal with include annual
minimum wage rises, increas-
es in superannuation pay-
ment, maternity leave, pater-
nity leave, carer's leave, penal-
ty rates, workcover, WHS leg-
islation and half-day public
Employers are having to deal
with bigger employee wage
packages without a correspon-
ding increase in productivity.
No wonder more businesses
are becoming less profitable
and being forced to cut back
or even close their doors.
Report-Annual Wage Review
2012-13 released by the Fair
Work Commission has some
disturbing trends, particularly
in relation to business com-
petitiveness and viability.
In the past two years there
has been a substantial decline
in profit shares as total factor
income, and a sharp increase
in wage shares as total factor
There has been a consistent
decline in company gross
operating profits since 2001
and a steep rise in the number
of business going into bank-
ruptcy since 2008-09. In fact,
2011-12 bankruptcy figures
are the highest during the
period starting 2003.
There are many similar dis-
turbing assessments within
this report. Yet one can expect
that governments will contin-
ue to burden businesses in
relation to employment.
The Fair Work Commission
is a complex structure and
with the establishment of the
Federal Modern Award sys-
tem, has very broad and
extensive powers. Given this
bureaucracy, one wonders
whether there are any produc-
tivity gains coming from our
industrial relations system.
The following are just a few
issues that the commission is
now undertaking. As a horti-
cultural business, are you
aware of these issues and what
the ramifications might be to
The commission is consider-
ing submissions from govern-
ment, industry, unions and
individuals in relation to
adjustment to the minimum
wage. The annual review
involves a complex process of
groups preparing submissions,
replies to the submissions and
then a time of consideration
by Fair Work Commissioners.
A response is handed down in
July each year.
The most disturbing fact is
that the employer groups do
not have their act together.
There are two or three sub-
missions from organisations
that might represent horticul-
ture and some 21 represent-
ing national and state employ-
er organisations. While there
are a number of submissions
from South Australian
employer groups, none really
cover SA horticulture
There is no consistency in
what employer groups are
seeking, particularly in rela-
tion to minimum wage
The commission is also
reviewing transitional penalty
rates. While the review is not
considering the awards rele-
vant to horticulture, one
would believe this will take
place sometime in future.
Some employer groups are
seeking to have a penalty rate
of 50pc for Sunday rather than
the 100pc, and removing the
25pc penalty rate for non-
casual hours. Others have
requested a variable spread of
hours for which different
penalty rates might apply.
On the other hand, unions
sought to have the double-
time penalty rates operate after
two hours rather than three
hours and provide overtime
payments for casuals who
work more than 38 hours
(General Retail Industry
In some instances, the com-
mission believed there was
merit in considering aspects of
penalty rates as they applied to
Sundays but rejected union
proposals. It agreed to facili-
tate some conciliation discus-
sions between the major par-
ties with a view to seeking a
degree of consensus.
The Prime Minister has often
spoken about enshrining
penalty rates in the legislation.
One other aspect that Fair
Work Australia is considering
is the review of junior pay
rates. Initially, the union is
seeking to have 20-year-olds
paid the full adult rate. In
future, they will be seeking to
have 18-year-olds paid the full
While this is being consid-
ered for the General Retail
Industry Award, be assured
that once the precedent is set,
it will flow to all awards.
The first of seven phased
laws will apply from July 1,
and payments will go up by
0.25pc on the day. The guar-
antee will increase to 12pc on
Hopefully, businesses will see
an increase in productivity as a
result, or will it be a bigger
pool of funds that govern-
ments can raid?
From my perspective, a 'fair
day's pay for a fair day's work'
is what the system should
present but that is not the case
under the current Modern
Award and Australian
Industrial Relations system.
The 'fair work' structure is
far from achieving strong
growth and productivity of
Australian businesses and
receives a D.
The South Australian Grower -- May 2013
Wage review raises alarm
The Fair Work Commission is considering submissions from government, industry, unions and individuals in relation to minimum wage
Spring Gully feels
love of community
I WAS so proud of my fellow South Australians when
they rallied behind Spring Gully Food Company in their
hour of need.
This small family company is a gem in our State and
needs all the support we can give them.
A lot of people at the top end of town must have
stood back and suddenly realised that we the
consumers are not a bunch of idiots, and we can
indeed vote with our feet.
For any company to experience such a sudden drop
in sales has to be reflected on the attitude of the
buyers at our monopoly group. They claim this is not
true but this case has to relate to their buyer choices.
I tried to buy Spring Gully products at my local
monopoly branch in a two-week period, but apart from
pickled onions, the cupboard was bare.
Going by the efforts of a number of other shoppers
who were doing the same thing, Spring Gully sales
would have spiked.
I am sure that after this exercise, management at the
duopoly will realise you can only push the public
around so far before they vote for justice with their
And, when are we going to see an Aldi branch in
Our growers are always experiencing problems with
the selectiveness and dictatorship of the duopoly and,
as I have said before, it is time governments looked at
breaking them up and opening up a more competitive
This is possibly the only country in the free world that
allows this sort of nonsense to continue.
On another topic, when I heard about the massive
explosion at the Texas fertiliser plant, the first thing that
crossed my mind was ammonium nitrate.
This was a commonly used fertiliser and those of you
who are my age would remember we used it to blow
stumps up and the miners used it to blow passages in
Unfortunately, terrorists discovered its value and
governments scattered to ban its sale, except to
miners and other licenced operators.
The Texans feel their problem may relate to
anhydrous ammonia, but it may have been ammonium
I was a little surprised that such a dangerous and
highly sought after product was being stored so close
to large population. It would only take an accidental
spillage of diesel fuel to activate it.
I recently met a person in Melbourne who had held a
senior position in a multi-national company heavily
involved in producing GM crops. It is well known that I
am far from convinced on the value of GM crops, so
the conversation soon followed that theme and also
another of my pet subjects -- food security.
We talked about the large areas of land in our north
that could possibly become a food bowl to supply
south east Asia, instead of them supplying us.
I was quite amazed when this person told me that
the company involved had had many long and hard
discussions with our government about the possibility
of developing this country and breeding GM crops that
could survive high saline and heat conditions but that
our government had showed no interest at all -- no
surprise, given their lack of interest in food security.
I have often stated (in jest) that if we don't start to
utilise some of this country, then the population living
above us may come down and do it for us.
I do appreciate the many calls I get and the numbers
of ideas for stories that are passed on to me.
I can be contacted on 0419 591 894 or
with WALLY SPARROW
Our growers are always
experiencing problems with
the selectiveness and
dictatorship of the duopoly.
Employers are having to deal with bigger
employee wage packages without a
corresponding increase in productivity.
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