Liquor Stax Australia, the independent network of alcohol retailers and hotels is through the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission hoping a proposal to authorise Liquor Stax Australia to collectively bargain with a range of wholesale suppliers gets the green light.
Liquor Stax has requested the ACCC consider its request, on behalf of a group of around 200 small businesses comprising alcohol retailers and hotels, to allow the network to collectively bargain with around 60 wholesale suppliers that provide such inputs as alcohol, cigarettes, poker machines and confectionery as well as services such as advertising, insurance and communications in order to drive a better price for members. Should ACCC agree to the request, it will provide Liquor Stax immunity from court action for conduct that might otherwise raise concerns under the competition provisions of the Trade Practices Act 1974.
Collective bargaining can sometimes be anti-competitive, however in this case the ACCC considers that the collective bargaining arrangements are likely to result in public benefits by providing Liquor Stax members greater leverage in supply contract negotiations to drive a bargain for consumers. In addition the ACCC believes both suppliers and Liquor Stax members are both likely to experience transaction cost savings as a result of reducing the number of parties to negotiations.
The ACCC proposes a five year authorisation of collective bargaining for Liquor Stax members, with participation in collective negotiations voluntary and in no way restricts members’ choice of suppliers.
The ACCC now invites comments on the draft determination. The ACCC’s draft determination and information about making a submission will be available from the ACCC website. Parties wishing to make submissions should do so by 22 September 2010.