Brisbane hospitality workers are protesting this morning outside the office of Federal MP Ross Vasta to mark the second anniversary of the government’s decision to cut penalty rates.
Mr Vasta voted eight times since February 2017 to cut weekend penalty rates, according to protest organiser Damien Davie from the United Voice Union. (pictured above)
Workers up to $2,000 worse off
Mr Davie told The Wynnum Herald that Mr Vasta, the member for the federal seat of Bonner, needed to explain why he voted so many times to cut workers’ penalty rates.
“More than 3100 workers in the Bonner electorate are now up to $2,000 worse off per annum for working an average Sunday shift,” he said.
“We’re here to tell Mr Vasta and the Morrison Government that the Bonner community will not accept cuts to weekend penalty rates, and it’s time they were restored.
“People realise that slashing weekend rates hits workers with a pay cut they can’t afford and don’t deserve — especially when you consider the personal sacrifices they make to work weekends and public holidays.
“We think it’s only fair that weekend workers should be adequately compensated for making those sacrifices.”
Vasta says government is not responsible
In response, Mr Vasta said his government was not responsible for the penalty rate cuts.
“Let’s be clear — the independent umpire the Fair Work Commission, which was set up by the Labor Party in 2009, looked at the penalty rates applying across awards and decided to make amendments to some Sunday and public holiday penalty rates,” he told The Wynnum Herald.
$1.3 billion cut from workers pay packets
The cuts, which were first introduced in July 2017 with a 5 percent reduction, were ordered by the Fair Work Commission which, along with business groups, argued would lead to job creation and economic growth.
Last July saw the second round of cuts to weekend penalty rates.
Full-time and part-time workers in hospitality and fast food copped a 10 percent cut in their Sunday rates, while those in retail and pharmacy had a 15 percent reduction.
At the same time, federal politicians received a two percent increase in their annual wage.
Mr Vasta received a rise of $4,182.
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.
Cuts have not resulted in jobs or economic growth
Miles Heffernan, Litigation Director at Industrial Relations Claims, has described the on-going penalty rate cuts as ‘a con’, because they haven’t delivered the promised jobs or economic growth.
“There is not one scrap of evidence anywhere that cutting someone’s wages will create one single job,” he said.
“You just need to think about it logically – the only reason a business will employ more people is if they need more people, otherwise, they won’t – they will simply pocket the penalty rate savings as profit.”
Labor vowes to restore weekend penalty rates
Labor says Australia is experiencing the lowest wage growth in more than 20 years, with inequality at its highest levels in almost a century.
Bill Shorten has pledged to reverse the penalty rate cuts if elected.
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