Union action pushes employers to protect penalty rates
Despite the recent Fair Work Commission (FWC) decision to slash penalty rates for thousands of hospitality, restaurant, fast food, retail and pharmacy workers, unions have pushed employers to refrain from enforcing the wage cuts.
Reduction of Sunday penalty rates by up to 50%, as well as a 25% cut to public holiday pay, has the potential to leave lower-paid workers in these industries $6,000 worse off every year.
Unions have campaigned strongly in the wake of the cuts, which officially came into force on 1 July 2017, placing pressure on employers to refrain from passing the wage cut onto their employees.
As a result retailers such as Lush, Kiki K and JB HiFi have vowed not to cut penalty rates for existing staff, as well as pharmacy chains Chemist Warehouse and My Chemist.
Lush directors Mark Lincoln and Peta Granger confirmed via Facebook that they would value their employees by not enforcing any cuts to penalty rates.
"Applying Fair Work’s ruling on penalty rates is a choice. The happiest and most productive employees are those who feel safe, valued and listened to by their employers. We encourage other employers to carefully consider the implications on their employees before making the choice," they wrote.
While it is positive that these employers have refused to cut penalty rates for current staff, it is imperative that this decision also be extended to all future employees.
Clubs workers next at risk
Clubs workers are the latest group to face attacks on their valuable penalty rates as employer group Clubs Association seeks to move these workers from the Clubs Award to the Hospitality Award, which is subject to the cuts.
Clubs Association has until 28 July to finalise their decision on whether to cut workers’ wages. Help convince them not to attack workers’ penalty rates by signing the campaign petition.
How the community can make a difference in penalty rate fight
IEUA-QNT Branch Secretary Terry Burke said unions would continue to campaign against attacks on penalty rates, but community support would make a significant difference.
“Unions are urging the broader community to join our movement in ensuring workers are fairly compensated for working unsociable hours that deny them valuable time with their family and friends,” Mr Burke said.
“All members of the community should join the fight to defend penalty rates by showing their support for businesses that maintain wage rates and condemning those that do not.”
You can help protect penalty rates by frequenting businesses that have vowed not to pass on these wage cuts to workers. Australian Unions maintains a list of such businesses at this website.
You can also support the campaign to protect penalty rates by visiting the Save Our Weekend website and getting involved in campaign actions.