Union Slams Fairwork Commission’s Cuts To Penalty Rates As Unfair

Friday 01st September 2017

Australian Workers’ Union Queensland has previously condemned the FairWork Commission’s move to slash Sunday and public holiday penalty rate loading to employees in hospitality, retail, hair and beauty, and pharmacy sectors as a devastating outcome for workers.

“The FairWork Commission’s decision to cut penalty rates for people who are sacrificing their weekends and public holidays has been a kick in the guts for our members,” Steve Baker said.

“The Commission’s decision was made without consultation with affected workers, and without any improvements of workers’ pay and conditions in other areas.

“These workers are amongst the lowest paid workers in the country, and the only ones to get a pay cut across the Board like this.

“We’ve seen wages growth stalling across the country, despite increases in employee productivity.

“This is why it is so unfair and unjust to be cutting wages of low paid workers who are trying to make ends meet while facing increasing cost of living pressures.

“We’re worried this decision may just be the start of more pay cuts – where we’ll see the Commission cut penalty rates in other industries where people work outside the usual business hours, including people working in health, aged care and disability sectors.

“That’s why the AWU has spoken out strongly against moves which take away pay and conditions without any improvements in other areas as compensation.

“And it’s why we’ve been actively campaigning with our members to send a message about why penalty rates matter to them.”

Steve Baker said the unfair move by the FairWork Commission was in stark contrast to decisions made during enterprise agreement negotiations.

Enterprise Agreements require that workers are ‘better off overall’ compared to the Award. During the bargaining process, the Union and its members consider a wide range of issues relating to the pay and conditions in the Award and the agreement – which can include base rates of pay, shift loading rates and other factors which contribute the overall take-home pay of workers.

“The whole premise of enterprise bargaining is that it’s a negotiated process, which involves the participation of those who’ll be affected by the final agreement,” Steve said.

“With those retail agreements, the aim was to reach the best mix to achieve the best take-home pay for members. This can include a higher rate of pay during the week.

“This is in stark contrast to the FairWork Commission, where they have just cut workers’ pay.”

Click here to find out more about our Penalty Rates Matter campaign.