Cuts to penalty rates will cost retail and fast food workers more than $1 billion each year

Media release | 23 February 2017

The Fair Work Commission’s decision to cut Sunday and public holiday penalty rates means that retail and fast food workers will lose out on more than $1 billion each year while not creating a single extra job.

SDA Secretary Barbara Nebart said that it was disgraceful Malcolm Turnbull has allowed the take-home pay of hundreds of thousands of retail and fast food workers to be slashed.

“Today’s decision means retail and fast food workers could take a pay cut of over $2,000 per year.”

“This cut comes at a time when wages growth is at a record low – Australian workers need a pay rise, not a pay cut.”

“Malcolm Turnbull is clearly Prime Minister out of touch, with a recent Essential Poll demonstrating that 82% of Australian’s actually support penalty rates.”

“This decision shows that the rules covering work need to be reviewed.”

“The Turnbull Government has sat on its hands as employers have fought to cut penalty rates – it can’t sit by now and allow those rates to disappear.”

“The Prime Minister must intervene before July to protect the take home pay of retail and fast food workers.”

“Today’s ruling has effectively created a two-tier working system, where retail and fast food workers are less important than other workers.”

“Economic analysis shows that this decision will not create one extra job or serve as a boost to small business.”

“What it will do is cut the already low pay of hundreds of thousands of workers.”

An extensive McKell Report estimates that the cuts to penalty rates in the retail and fast food sectors would result in workers across Australia losing between $370 million and $1.55 billion each year.”

Barbara Nebart said that it was appalling that the Turnbull Government has been soft on multinational tax avoiders, has called for cuts to company tax rates, but does nothing to protect the take home pay for retail workers.”

“At a time when serious economists and world economic institutions like the IMF and USA Federal Reserve are all saying that increases for wage earners are critical to get our economies moving, the Turnbull Government does nothing while penalty rates for retail workers are slashed.”

“The SDA will be reviewing this damaging decision and we’re calling on Malcolm Turnbull to stand up for our nation’s retail and fast food workers by intervening immediately to protect take home pay and then reviewing the laws that have led to this decision.”

Media contact: Darren Rodrigo 0414 783 405

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