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Cutting Sunday penalty rates will hurt young people the most

Shirley Jackson writes in The Conversation (23.2.17) about the decision by the Fair Work Commission to cut Sunday penalty rates for certain workers. The author argues that young and lower-paid workers, particularly in the hospitality and retail sectors, will be worst affected by the move.

‘The Fair Work Commission decided to cut Sunday and some public holiday rates of pay across the hospitality, retail, pharmacy and fast food industries for full time, part time and some casual workers.

‘This will hit young people the hardest as research tells us that while a third of Australians rely on regular Sunday shifts as part of their wage, nearly 40% of young people rely on penalty rates to survive.

‘Penalty rates have been part of the labour market for almost 100 years, since the Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission ruled in 1919 that additional payment was required for working unsociable hours. This decision remains popular a century later. According to the latest polls, 82% of Australians support this compensation for working outside the usual working week.

‘… The timing of the release seems to be poor, as the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data shows that wage growth in the private sector is at an all-time low and that the cost of living is at an all-time high. Given this context, it seems ill advised to reduce the wages of a largely casual workforce that already lacks security and stability.’

Sunday penalty rates cut opens new fight between government and opposition

Michelle Grattan writes in The Conversation (23.2.17) that the Fair Work Commission’s penalty rates decision has created a new set of battlelines for Labor and the Coalition federal government.

‘Hospitality, fast-food, retail and pharmacy workers stand to lose thousands of dollars per year after the Fair Work Commission’s landmark decision to cut penalty rates on Sundays and public holidays.

‘The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) said the decision to reduce the rates would affect nearly 1 million workers, costing some up to A$6,000 per year. But employers welcomed the cut and said it would help create employment.

‘Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said Labor would fight the cuts “in parliament and in the courts”. It would use another hearing to try to stop them being implemented and if that failed a future Labor government would change the rules under which the Fair Work Commission operated.’

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