Penalty rates slashed

The Fair Work Commission has handed down its decision to slash the penalty rates of employees in thehospitality, fast food, restaurant, retail and pharmacy industries.

The decision, which came down on Thursday, will see changes to the Sunday penalty rates and public holiday rates and are planned to take effect from July 1, 2017.

Industries will have the opportunity to file submissions on the reduction of penalty rates as the commission drafts the final determinations.

Former Labor Senator Ursula Stephens said hospitality and retail industries are bigger employers in regional areas, in comparison to cities.

“This reduces their disposable income to shop locally,” Dr Stephens said.

“It’s a difference in someone’s ability to sustain a mortgage or have their kids in childcare and overall,maintain living standards. It will have an impact on the quality of life.

“The seven-day society is less evident in regional areas, but in Goulburn we value our weekends. People working on weekends are away from family and they should be paid for it.”

She said it was a ‘thin edge of the wedge’.

“If this can happen through Fair Work for these industries, what’s next?”

President of Goulburn Labor Jason Shepherd saidthe changes would impact adversely on families.

“We do not think this is fair. We will fight this,” Mr Shepherd said.

“We think the Fair Work Commission has got this wrong. It will not lead to more employment, just to people working longer hours and getting second jobs to make up the difference.

“For the younger workers who are working these jobs before moving onto other careers –the burden will fall back on the family to cover other costs. It disadvantagesparents, who will have to pick up the slack.So it doesn’t just affect them –it affects the families.”

Goulburn resident Greg Price said people on weekend penalty rates tosurvive.

“Wage rates have been stagnant for the last few years for employeesit is ludicrous to reduce the penaltiesfor Sundays when people are barely making enough money to survive in the less- well-paid jobs,” Mr Price said.

“The government does not seem to understand that if their incomes do keep up pace the with prices of goods, then people will not be able to spend money, which will affect business. It is s cycle. The economic rationalist theory can not work because it relies on people continuing to spend.”

Another Goulburn resident John Proctorsaid a lot of people in these industries have gone back from five days a week to three days work and they depend on penalty rates to prop them up

“They wont have enough income to survive,” he said.

Submissions will close on March 24 at 4pm. This matter will then be brought to a hearing in early May.

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