Petrol station operators say they are prepared to examine multi-employer bargaining provided the legal test for approving enterprise agreements is simplified.

Australasian Convenience and Petroleum Marketers ­Assoc­i­ation chief executive Mark McKenzie said operators were open to elements of a deal between the ACTU and the small business lobby supporting multi-employer bargaining and a simpler better-off-overall test when approving enterprise agreements.

Mr McKenzie is a former chairman of the Council of Small Business Organisations Australia, which struck the agreement with the ACTU.

He said sector-wide bargaining, as separately proposed by the ACTU for the care sector but not for small businesses, would not work for petrol station operators.

“We are open to multi-­employer agreements where you have got businesses of the same architecture that can potentially work together,” he said. “But it would be premised on changes to the BOOT.”

Mr McKenzie said there was “absolutely not” a prospect of a sector-wide agreement among petrol retailers, noting union membership in service stations was “next to zero”.

Australian Industry Group chief executive Innes Willox said small businesses should be concerned about the potential impact of the agreement between the ACTU and COSBOA.

“The concern for over two million small businesses is now they will have union officials knocking on their front door telling them how to run their ­business,” he said. “This is clearly a union ploy to try to lift their membership.”

COSBOA chief executive Alexi Boyd has said any multi-employer bargaining would operate on an opt-in basis.

Restaurants, cafes and catering businesses said industry-wide bargaining would disadvantage tens of thousands of small businesses and their workers.

Restaurant & Catering Australia CEO Belinda Clarke said while the current system needed reform, industry-wide bargaining would “leave small businesses who have already had the hardest two years due to Covid-19 at the mercy of big businesses who have much deeper pockets and much louder voices to cut deals that are preferable to them”.

“We want the best outcome for workers and businesses here,” she said.

Extracted in full from: Petrol stations open to multi-employer deals (