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Penalty rates in Queensland

Amy Remeikis writes (Brisbane Times 26.3.15) about the likelihood of an inquiry into penalty rates in Queensland:

‘Queensland’s leading business lobby group claims three of the state’s key industries are suffering under the current penalty rate system, but unions say there is “no appetite” to change it and the government, for the most part, agreed.

‘The South Australian Shop, Distributive and Allied Employee Association signed off on a landmark deal with Business SA to slash weekend penalty rates, in exchange for a higher base rate of pay.

‘The agreement, which is voluntary, is being held up as a template by other employer groups.’  …

“The Queensland Government has made its position on penalty rates clear,” Treasurer Curtis Pitt said in a statement.

“We think penalty rates should stay because they compensate workers for working on the weekend.

‘”We’re open to listening to stakeholders but our support lies fairly and squarely with workers being properly remunerated for working on weekends.”‘

Remeikis reports that ‘Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland general manager of advocacy Nick Behrens said the state’s employers needed to see penalty rate reform.’

A review into the nation’s penalty rates is underway through the Productivity Commission and the recent South Australian agreement had paved the way for an easier change.

“Our view is it is a national award, so irrespective of it being in South Australia, or anywhere else, it doesn’t make any difference,”  he said.

“If the Fair Work Commission signs off on this enterprise agreement, they will sign off on it in Queensland [if we get there].”‘

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