Decision means pay cut for low paid workers

The Fair Work Commission’s (FWC) decision to radically cut Sunday and public holiday pay will hurt more than 400,000 Queensland workers.

The Queensland Council of Unions joined ACTU calls on the Turnbull LNP Government and all political parties to immediately act to protect working people from any cuts to their take home pay, due to come into effect on 1 July, 2017.

Hospitality, restaurant, fast food, retail and pharmacy workers will have their Sunday penalty rates cut between 25% and 50%. Public holiday pay was also slashed by up to 25%.

“This means a potential loss of around $6,000 per year for hundreds of thousands of  Queensland workers. Workers will be worse off as a result of this decision,” said QCU General Secretary Ros McLennan.

“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,” she said.

“These cuts to penalty rates and public holiday pay directly slashes workers’ take home pay.

“Unless he acts now, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will be forever remembered as the prime minister who oversaw the cutting of the take home pay of almost one million of Australia’s lowest paid workers,” she said.

“Retail, fast food, pharmacy and hospitality workers work late nights and weekends when the vast majority of the Australian workforce does not. They deserve to be compensated for it,” she said.

“Families across Queensland and Australia rely on penalty rates to put food on the table and pay the bills.

“This decision now leaves the door open for similar attacks on other Queenslanders who rely on penalty rates and public holiday pay to support themselves and their families, including nurses and all other frontline emergency service workers.

“The question on everyone’s lips is ‘who’s next?’,” she asked.

“This decision is a game changer for industrial relations in Australia. “We need the rules to change so penalty rates cannot be cut and our parliament must act now to protect working people.”

Today’s decision comes only a week after Wesfarmers, owner of Coles, Bunnings, Kmart, Target and Officeworks, reported a profit after tax of more than $1.5 billion.

“It comes just a few weeks after the boss of JB Hi Fi – which also recorded a record sales and turnover recently – said from the deck of his yacht that penalty rates were too high!” she said.

“And it’s just a day after a second consecutive quarter of record low wages growth was confirmed.”