Media statement | 24 March 2020
Quotes from Gerard Dwyer, National Secretary of the SDA
As discretionary retail spending falls off a cliff, the government must step in now to provide immediate financial support to enable as many workers and businesses as possible to weather the storm and give those stood down the means to feed their families.
In the absence of government support flowing through to businesses and workers right now, shops across the nation are shutting their doors, we must all work now to ensure that is NOT for ever.
Tens of thousands of jobs have already been lost, thousands of shops are closing their doors.
If these retail businesses are to survive in the long term, small, medium and large size retail businesses need government financial support now.
The government must take action based on the joint approach from the Australian Retailers Association and the SDA for a multi-billion dollar Australian Retail Industry Rescue Package, to include the following urgent measures:
- A wage subsidy for retail workers, to protect their income and their jobs;
- Underwriting a line of credit for retailers (subject to criteria to be determined), to ensure they can continue to trade without being insolvent; and
- A government guarantee of rent payments from retailers to landlords, or the federal government identifying rent reduction measures in conjunction with landlords, with all consequent rent savings to be used by retailers to help pay for employees wages.
The SDA is talking with employers who do not have the cash flow to stay open to try to ensure they will be able to resume business when the COVID-19 emergency ends and re-employ their skilled workers so the economy does have a better chance of bouncing back.
- The government must heed the call from SDA and the Australian Retailers Association to keep as many retailers solvent as possible
- The government must take another look at the UK’s decision to pay 80% of wages to enable people to spend and keep businesses on the go.
Stood down workers must have immediate access to the JobSeeker payment. Many do not have the savings to enable them to wait for weeks if they are to put this evening’s food on the table and pay the bills that are piling up.