Retail and pharmacy workers have their pay cut while Morrison sleeps easy

Thousands of Queensland workers in retail and pharmacy outlets start the financial year staring at another pay cut for working weekends.

Low-paid retail and pharmacy workers on awards – estimated to number around 90,000 in Queensland – will again have their Sunday penalty rates cut from 1 July 2020, meaning that some have lost more than $2000 a year for their work on Sundays and public holidays since the LNP has been in power.

Queensland Council of Unions General Secretary Michael Clifford said cutting wages of low-paid workers was the LNP’s only approach to stimulating economic growth and creating jobs.

“LNP and big business claims that cutting penalty rates would create jobs have been proved false,” he said.

“We’ve heard LNP politicians from Warren Entsch in Cairns and Michelle Landry in Rockhampton claiming that cutting penalty rates will boost jobs. Those claims have been proven false and completely on the wrong track to stimulate local economies,” he said.

Even the leader of Australia’s small business council Peter Strong has admitted the cuts had “not created one new job or prompted business to give any extra hours to workers”.

An analysis of Australian Bureau of Statistics data undertaken and reported earlier this year showed that Australia had 732,000 sales assistants and salespersons in May 2017, before the penalty rate cuts began, but had only 694,000 in November last year.

Mr Clifford said the LNP and big business should not use the current COVID-19 economic impact as an excuse to cut wages further.

“We’ve already heard business leaders such as the head of Woolworths earlier this month continue to perpetuate the falsehood that cutting penalty rates will stimulate employment. All it does is take money out of the economy,” he said.

“You can’t grow an economy by cutting wages. That little money that currently goes to the discretionary spending of those workers must now be redirected to the more immediate priorities of food and shelter.  

“Cuts to penalty rates started in 2017 and some workers have lost thousands of dollars in pay since then, while the salaries of politicians like Scott Morrison have increased by six percent over that time,” said Mr Clifford.

“Scott Morrison will not suffer a pay cut from tomorrow but up to 90,000 Queensland award-reliant workers will have their wages cut for working weekends in vital industries like pharmacy and retail.

“It’s a pay cut these workers can’t afford and don’t deserve,” Mr Clifford said.

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