Bill Shorten is introducing legislation to try and stop cuts to penalty rates due to be rolled out from July.
From the start of next month, full-time and part-time workers in hospitality and fast food are set to have their Sunday penalties reduced by 10 percent.
Meanwhile, workers in pharmacy and retail will cop an even larger reduction of 15 percent.
The Fair Work Commission decided to phase in the cuts over four years, to bring Sunday penalty rates into line with Saturday rates.
A cut to public holiday penalties came into effect previously in July last year.
By the time the full reductions are rolled out in 2020, it’s estimated that a total of $1.3 billion will be cut from workers’ pay packets.
Labor says Australia is experiencing the lowest wage growth in more than 20 years.
It also notes that inequality is at its highest levels in almost a century, so has therefore promised to reverse the penalty rate cuts if elected.
According to the Australian Council of Trade Unions, a permanent retail worker on Level 1 wages will lose $132 for working a long weekend after 1 July.
Meanwhile, a Level 1 food and beverage attendant will lose $80.
Productivity and job growth
The Fair Work Commission and business groups argued the rate cuts will increase productivity and lead to job growth.
However, ACTU national secretary Sally McManus said that since the first round of cuts last year, consumer spending declined, and the promised jobs have not materialised.
In a statement, Ms McManus said:
“These are cuts that working people don’t deserve and can’t afford.”
“THIS POLITICIAN THINKS THE MINIMUM WAGE AND PENALTY RATES ARE TOO HIGH”
Cutting wages of the lowest paid unfair
Miles Heffernan, Director of Litigation at Industrial Relations Claims, says cutting the wages of low income earners is unfair.
“We’re talking about some of the lowest paid workers in our community who are going to lose out here,” he said.
“It’s a bit rough for them not to be compensated for giving up their Sundays and public holidays to work.
“Good on Bill Shorten for sticking up for these workers.”
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