At What Cost is a community campaign opposed to giving the big retailers more power in Western Australia.

The campaign is being led by the Western Australian branch of the SDA, on behalf of the tens of thousands of retail workers it represents.

The campaign will include radio, print and television advertising in Perth and regional WA.

The Barnett Government recently announced legislation to allow big retailers to open for an additional seven hours a week, including allowing them to open at 7am on weekdays, instead of 8am.

These changes will give big retailers more power and would come at great cost to retail workers, small businesses and local producers.

Experience has shown that longer trading hours don’t result in more jobs with the big retailers.  Instead, the existing workforce gets stretched through longer shifts and fewer staff on the floor.

Colin Barnett’s proposal to allow the big retailers to open at 7am, instead of 8am will make it difficult for retail workers to organise child care and get the kids to school, and it will mean some retail workers will need to get to work before the trains and buses start running. 

Retail workers have already suffered major impacts on their family lives with the introduction of weekday late night trading in 2010 and Sunday trading in 2012. 

Adding to these problems, allowing big retailers to open even longer will cost local jobs by putting the squeeze on small retailers and making it harder for local producers to get a look in.

True economic reform should benefit the whole community, not just big retailers.

How can a policy that is likely to result in less competition in food retailing, with fewer places to shop and local producers struggling to get their products on the shelf be considered a positive reform?

In addition to all of the difficulties faced by retail employees, the potential cost of the proposed changes is a food retail sector where a small number of chains dominate, with generic brands replacing even more local products and a lack of competition driving up prices.

We call upon the Parliament to ensure that any proposed changes to trading hours are subjected to a full public Parliamentary inquiry, where the costs of both previous and proposed changes on the whole community can be considered, alongside the benefits delivered to big retailers.