Thousands of workers and community members turned out at today’s national rally against the federal Coalition’s continuing attacks on workers.
Queensland Council of Unions General Secretary Ros McLennan said there was widespread anger over cuts to penalty rates and increasing risks to workplace safety, as well as renewed attacks on wages and conditions through federal laws.
Ms McLennan said police reported that around 3000 people attended the Brisbane rally event, while there were more than 1000 estimated at a Gold Coast rally. Many thousands turned out at rallies nationwide.
“It’s clear that Queenslanders and Australians feel widespread concern over the continuing attacks on workers underway by the federal government,” said Ms McLennan.
“Polling shows the majority of Australians are against cutting Sunday penalty rates for our lowest-paid workers, but it’s a decision supported by Malcolm Turnbull and the federal government,” said Ms McLennan.
“Additionally, there are widespread concerns about the Australian Building Construction Commission (ABCC) legislation that punishes workers for speaking out about unsafe workplaces,” she said.
“Queensland unions respect the concern of workers and community members to join in standing against the federal government’s continuing attacks on workers.”
These attacks include a recent Fair Work Commission decision to reduce Sunday penalty rates, the reintroduction of the Australian Building and Construction Commission, increasing wage inequality and the erosion of working conditions and safety.
“Australian workers saw this pattern under John Howard in 2007 and they’re seeing it again now under the LNP. They are wondering “who’s next!” she said.
“They are standing up and fighting back because wages and conditions are under attack.”
The Fair Work Commission’s (FWC) decision to radically cut Sunday and public holiday penalty rates will mean up to 180,000 Queensland retail and hospitality workers on Award wages will face a pay cut from 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 is a loss of up to $6,000 per year for some Queensland workers with an estimated half-a-billion dollars will be ripped out of the economy with absolutely no evidence that a single new job will be created,” said Ms McLennan.
“This is a cut that Australian workers cannot afford and do not deserve. Families across Queensland and Australia rely on penalty rates to put food on the table and pay the bills.
“If bosses follow the Fair Work Commission decision and cut penalty rates it will be the single largest pay cut since the Depression.”
She said the LNP was launching another Workchoices-style attack on workers.
“The federal Coalition is cutting wages and working conditions, and then is giving $50 billion in tax cuts to its corporate backers. We expect thousands of Queenslanders to join us in saying “enough is enough” and that attacks on workers and their families must stop!”