The BRC has warned that more retail job losses were likely in the coming year as the UK minimum wage increases from £5.05 to £5.35 an hour in October.
In a submission to the Low Pay Commission the BRC urged the government to delay the latest rise but the claims have sparked a row with unions who say employers are using the threat of job losses to hold back pay.
BRC director general Kevin Hawkins said "Retailers tell us they are being expected to find £2.7bn extra for wages over just two years" and warned that some employers are looking to cut staffing costs to compensate for increases in rents, energy and other overheads.
But the TUC dismissed the claims, arguing that that 23,000 retail jobs had been created over the past two years and official figures showed a different picture and
TUC chief Brendan Barber said "Every year members of the British Retail Consortium predict that an increase in the minimum wage will cause massive job losses and they are proven wrong,"
The Transport & General Workers Union (T&G) argues that there is a need to increase the minimum wage to at least £6 an hour in order to battle poverty and inequality. T&G general secretary Tony Woodley said "Retail is one of the lowest paying sectors yet Tesco, for example, has reported £2.35bn profit, 17% higher than last year"
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