Every year they say it is going to be 'hot summer' and with global warming it will be even hotter. Well this summer has to be one of the coolest. We had a long spring that rolled into summer and December January have been quite mild. In fact I am sitting here with a jumper on thinking about getting a jacket as well. Yes we have had some hot days but really most of Australia has been mild. Watching the nightly weather report it has been odd to see many days this summer where Melbourne and Canberra have been hotter than Perth.
This has been great for our industry and kept country and metropolitan garden centres ticking over. I feel a bit sorry for the ice cream vendors around the bay side suburbs but such is life in small business. We now start watching the 28 then 14 day forecasts with keen interest as our Herb and Chilli Festival is nearly here and it is so weather dependent. Last two years we have at least one wet day. First year it rained on the Friday, second on the Saturday and last year on the Sunday so this year it can rain on the Monday.
What does drive me a little mad is the constant battle we seem to have as small business. The East West link is a classic example. Yes, I want it built and Yes ALP won the election on a policy of not building it. However most people I spoke to (including ALP voters) believed that it as a promise that wouldn't be kept. They all thought the government would find a way to build it. We need that link. Small business, Tradies and people who don't want to go into CBD are wasting time sitting in traffic. I can't see many of them using the trains.
Another annoyance is the increase in public holidays. We already have too many in Australia and Victoria has to be one of the worst. It is embarrassing enough to have to explain that we have a holiday for a horse race. Now I have to explain we have a holiday for a party on the day before a football game. There are the small companies that now have another day with no income but normal expenses. Then there are the other places that should open but actually struggle to cover costs and finally there are businesses like nurseries that have to either pay extra staff or hope the weather is mild enough that the plants won't need a water.
Public Holidays, weekend penalties and 9 to 5 hours are part of an old mind set. The world is a much different place and the Australian way of life is more versatile. As a young adult I remember trying to find decent places to eat on a Monday or Tuesday evening and when driving Taxis (as a student) struggling to find fares after 1.00am. The footy always started at 2pm on a Saturday afternoon with the odd night game. In those times there was an argument for penalty rates when you worked on a Sunday or week day evening but now it is common. Indeed for many people it is the preferred option.
It is time we were paid the same for all the hours we work up to a base level per week. No matter what day they are on and then pay a penalty for more than 40 hours in a week. I can't sell the plants that were potted on a Saturday for 50% more so why should I pay 50% more to pot them?
The argument that the weekend is time for people to spend with their families is a bit weak. What percentage of the workforce wants to do this? How many of them want to go 'out' with their families which means that they want to use the services of others who are working. Look how many of these 'family' people are at the pub, eating out at restaurants, going to the cinema or simply having a coffee.
Time they did some basic maths. Allowing for a business to make profit (some think this is a bad idea) means they have to sell their product for more than they pay. If you pay a casual person $40 per hour (add in workcover and Super = $45) then it costs you 75cents a minute. To sell, make, get paid for and clean up a cup of coffee (not including time whilst it is being consumed) is at least 12 minutes which is $9. Charge more than $4 for that cup and you are seen as being too expensive. Pay $9 charge $8 (2 coffees at once) = not good for long term business.
Summer is over and let's hope for a really busy autumn. Come and see us at the Herb and Chilli Festival, 14 and 15 March, you will have fantastic time. Go to wwe.herbchillifestival.com.au for more info.