Almost one million workers face penalty rate cuts
Almost one million Australian workers are facing up to a $6,000 hit to their pay packets after the Fair Work Commission (FWC) handed down a decision on Thursday to slash penalty rates.
The cuts, affecting retail, hospitality and pharmacy workers, will see Sunday pay rates cut by between 25-50% as of 1 July 2017. Public holiday pay will also be slashed by up to 25%.
IEUA-QNT Branch Secretary Terry Burke condemned the decision and said it was grossly out of touch with community expectations.
“All workers are entitled to fairness and dignity at work including rates of pay that adequately recognise their commitment — particularly those sacrificing time with their families to work on weekends.
“While our members are not personally affected by these weekend penalty rate cuts, many will have children, friends and relatives now facing a serious loss in their take home pay.”
What you can do to defend penalty rates
The Australian Council of Trades Unions (ACTU) has launched an online petition calling on the federal parliament to intercede in this unfair decision. Add your name to the petition and send a clear message that our community will not accept unfair wage cuts for some of the country's lowest paid workers.
Unions rally in wake of decision
Unions and community members rallied in Brisbane in the wake of the decision, with attendees gathering outside the FWC building in Eagle Street before marching down to Waterfront Place. Rallies were also held in Melbourne and Hobart.
The decision follows almost two years of deliberation by the commission and a full bench hearing that considered close to 6,000 submissions. The review into penalty rates was driven by retail and hospitality employers, with business lobby groups welcoming the cuts.
James Pearson, CEO of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry has claimed cuts to penalty rates will increase employment. However, Queensland Council of Unions General Secretary Ros McLennan said there is no evidence that reducing penalty rates results in increases to employment levels.
“There is absolutely no evidence that cutting workers’ take home pay and Sunday penalty rates would create one single extra job. But we do know that it would be much harder for many families to pay their bills and put food on the table,” she said.
“This is a cut that Australian workers cannot afford and do not deserve. The decision also comes a day after record low wage growth was reported for the second consecutive quarter. These workers deserve a pay rise, not a pay cut.”
There are also concerns that the landmark FWC decision will lead to future penalty rate cuts for employees such as nursing and frontline emergency service workers.
Visit www.saveourweekend.org.au for more on this story.