First cuts to penalty rates just days away
With 1 July 2017 looming, the first cuts to penalty rates are set to be felt by hundreds of thousands of Australian workers after a final attempt by the Federal Labor Opposition to block the cuts was defeated in Parliament this week.
It comes as Federal politicians are set to get a pay increase.
Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) President Ged Kearney said the Turnbull Government’s decision to vote against proposed legislation to stop the penalty rate cuts was another failure to stand up for Australian working people.
“After losing the vote of LNP backbencher George Christensen, who crossed the floor to vote for the ALP amendment, the Government relied on a wafer thin majority of just one vote to cut the wages of up to 700,000 workers from 1 July,” Ms Kearney said.
“About 25 per cent of Australians currently work on weekends.
“The working people affected by these cuts do not work weekends by choice, they work weekends and give up time with family and friends because penalty rates allow them to make ends meet.
“Australia is languishing in the midst of record low wage growth. The Governor of the Reserve Bank this week even said there is a ‘real wage crisis’.
“Cutting penalty rates is a cut to pay when Australian workers desperately need a pay rise.”
Queensland Council of Unions (QCU) General Secretary Ros McLennan said workers in regional Queensland would lose almost $150 million a year in disposable income due to the Turnbull Government’s decision to support cutting penalty rates – according to analysis by the McKell Institute.
“Rural and regional Australia has a higher proportion of retail and hospitality workers than our major cities, particularly in a decentralised state like Queensland,” Ms McLennan said.
“Workers in regional Queensland already earn less than their counterparts in the south-east corner, so they will be hit even harder,” she said.
IEUA-QNT Branch Secretary Terry Burke said the impact of the cuts to penalty rates would surely be felt by our membership’s family members including those who may be working part-time during their school and university studies.
“As part of the Australian union movement it is important that IEUA-QNT members support the campaign to protect penalty rates and put pressure on employers not to pass these cuts on to their workers despite the Fair Work Commission decision to slash penalty rates in the hospitality, retail, fast food and pharmacy awards.
Mr Burke said the upcoming Weekend Warrior campaign was an opportunity for member to do just that.
“On Sunday 2 July, IEUA-QNT members are asked to join their fellow unionists and community supporters for Weekend Warrior Day which will focus on protecting the penalty rates of workers in Queensland community clubs.
“Already many clubs have pledged not to cut their staff’s penalty rates — regardless of the Fair Work Commission decision and we need to keep up the pressure to ensure other clubs follow suit,” Mr Burke said.