The National Road Transport Association (NatRoad) says the Fair Work Commission should keep minimum wages at current levels.
“Member feedback is that transport companies are now facing dire circumstances. Whilst there was an initial upsurge in supermarket and related food supply chains in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is now a slump in demand for most transport services.
“Members are telling us that jobs will be even more at risk if there is a minimum wage increase, especially at the levels sought by the ACTU and unions at a 4% increase. Award wages should not increase at this time of economic uncertainty.
“Whilst around 6.3 million workers are currently having their wages subsidised via the federal government’s $130bn JobKeeper scheme, many in the road transport industry are not eligible – because of the industry’s slim profit margins by the time you qualified for JobKeeper you’d likely already be insolvent.
“Minimum wages have consistently risen by more than prices particularly in the past three years. Members tell us that they are being pressured by customers to reduce their prices or to extend their payment terms. Forget about getting a price increase in the current environment, they say. With any increase in wages, there is likely to be staff cuts or more business closures.
“The industry can’t afford an increase in minimum wages during this pandemic,” said Clark.