WESTERN Australia’s independent grocers could be facing a 13 per cent increase in their wages bill if they decide to sign a new enterprise bargaining agreement with the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association. SDAEA secretary Joe Bullock said to meet the requirements of both the state and federal industrial relations commissions, wages under the agreement would need to rise about 13 per cent over three years. He said he expected to face a “credibility problem” with shopkeepers because since the current EBA had been signed in 2002 the national wage case had lifted the minimum wage. During this time Australian Workplace Agreements, as a result of the Office of the Employment Advocate’s application of the no-disadvantage test, had proved to be more competitive, he said. About 200 independent grocers signed the last EBA, which is due to expire around August. They had chosen the EBA in response to the phasing out of WA’s workplace agreements, under which many had been employing their staff. WA Independent Grocers Association president John Cummings said the EBA was likely to be the most important issue for independent grocers now that the trading hours issue had been finalised.