Government recommends retaining amended Retail Grocery JLC

The recomendation for an amended JLC for the retail grocery sector means supermarkets and symbol group stores will have to pay their staff higher wages than other retail sectors
The recomendation for an amended JLC for the retail grocery sector means supermarkets and symbol group stores will have to pay their staff higher wages than other retail sectors

CSNA "very unhappy" that JLC system will be maintained and "uncomfortable" with a recommendation that proposes symbol stores should pay more than independents



7 October 2013

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The Labour Court Review of the Joint Labour Committee (JLC) wage rates has been released by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation.

Of the eight JLCs being reviewed, there is only a recommendation in the review to abolish one of them, the Law Clerks JLC.

The Convenience Stores and Newsagents Association (CSNA) has said it is "very unhappy" with the review’s stance. 

Discussing the Retail Grocery and Allied Trades JLC, the Department said: "The recommendation is that the JLC should be retained with an amended scope in terms of redefining the competitive sector to which the JLC will apply. The Minister will make such an order shortly."

The review had recommended that the JLC should be retained and renamed – The Retail Sector – Grocery – Multiple and Symbol Outlets JLC.

The document suggests that the effect of these amendments is to continue to provide a level of competition in terms of rates of pay between the outlets which comprise the overwhelming majority of the market share in this sector, and which compete with each other in terms of the goods and services provide, and on price.

The CSNA commented in the association’s newsletter that what this effectively means is that if you are an independent store and do not trade under the title of "symbol" (as recognised in the grocery sector), then your business does not have an obligation to pay wage rates that are to be set by the new JLC.

If you own a forecourt business and do not have a grocery symbol group store as part of the business, you do not have the new JLC rates to concern you. What’s more, all grocery food workers in the grocery symbol operation will be covered by the new JLC; there will no longer be a confusion of paying different JLC rates for staff in different parts of the same business.

The association has said it will provide a more detailed summary of the review to all members once it receives clarification on a number of points made within the body of the review and in the department’s briefing notes.The CSNA will also meet with other trade bodies that are involved in other JLCs to consider what approaches need to be made jointly to the Minister in advance of any Statutory or legislative changes being taken by government.

The CSNA has spoken out against the decision, stating:""The first impression that we have in that we are very unhappy that the Minister has decided to maintain a wage setting body that will force a retailer to pay staff at a rate that is higher than the State has determined as a just and fair minimum wage rate.

"We are also most uncomfortable with the misguided view that independent owners that have chose to purchase their grocery goods from a particular wholesaler and operates their business as part of a recognisable symbol group should pay higher rates of pay to their staff for exactly the same work as those working in similar sized non-symbol stores.

"There is no logic in limiting the extent of the Retail JLC to those that sell groceries. There are large retail chains involved in books, telephones, hardware, pharmacies, video rental etc whose workers are not covered by any JLC, if those businesses are not obligated to pay higher wage rates, why should our sector?

"We certainly welcome the fact that many of our members will now find themselves outside the unkind realm of a JLC and hope that they will benefit from their newly found competitive edge but should caution them that all other employer obligations remain in place and are, of course, subject to NERA inspection."



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