Media Statement - SDA praises Senate action to protect penalty rates for 700,000 workers

The SDA, the union for workers in retail, fast food and warehousing has praised the Senate’s decision to prioritise debate of the Fair Work Amendment (Repeal of 4 Yearly Reviews and Other Measures) Bill 2017 which involves protecting penalty rates for over 700,000 retail, fast food and hospitality workers.

In the Senate last night, Labor successfully forced the Turnbull Government to debate its own bill next week on December 4 when the House of Representatives returns.

SDA National Secretary Gerard Dwyer said he was pleased Parliament would be debating a bill on penalty rates and take home pay, a matter so important to the daily lives of hundreds of thousands of Australians.

“We welcome the decision of the Senate to deal as a matter of priority, with the matter of protecting penalty rates which were unfairly cut for over 700,000 hard working Australians.”

“Called for by the business lobby and openly supported by the Turnbull Government the cuts to take home pay will leave retail and fast food workers between $2,000 - $6,000 worse off every year.”

“With historically low wages growth, spiralling rent, electricity, petrol and grocery prices this is a pay cut hard working Australians did not deserve and cannot afford.”

Mr Dwyer said that the business lobby’s claims that slashing penalty rates would be a ‘positive move’ for the economy and ‘create jobs’ had been repeatedly debunked, most recently in speech by the Reserve Bank Governor Philip Lowe on 22nd of November.

“Just last week Mr Lowe confirmed that low wages were at the heart of many of the problems the Australian economy including dangerous, record debt levels.”

“Wage growth for Australian workers has already fallen drastically from 3-4% to 2-2.5% per year. There is absolutely no justification for big business to be continue supporting cuts to take-home pay of up to $80 per week.”

“The business lobby fails to acknowledge that slashing penalty rates takes money out of the pockets of the very people who need to spend it in their businesses. That is not good for economic growth or jobs.”

Research by the McKell Institute has found that slashing 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 and that regional economies would particularly suffer.

A recent Senate Inquiry also confirmed that slashing take home pay will not boost employment or improve economic growth as claimed by the Government. It found that in fact, reducing incomes will do the opposite.

“The best outcome for the economy, and the businesses they seek to represent is for penalty rates to be restored, not cut.”

 “The economy needs Australian workers to receive a pay increase, not a pay cut. Not only is it appallingly unfair for retail and fast food workers, its economically short-sighted.”

Media contact: Darren Rodrigo 0414 783 405

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