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Issue #1769      March 15, 2017

Saving Penalty Rates campaign

The Maritime Union of Australia is throwing its support behind the ALP and trade union movement’s push to support low and middle income earners by protecting penalty rates.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has said that the ALP will reverse the Fair Work Commission’s decision to reduce weekend penalty rates if Labor takes power at the next federal election while Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and business groups support the cuts.

The ACTU and other unions have said they will fight the ruling, along with the Turnbull government’s cuts to pensions and family supplements, in addition to ham-fisted attempts to claw back alleged welfare overpayments.

The Fair Work Commission last week ruled that penalty rates for workers in the retail, fast food, hospitality and pharmacy industries would be cut.

The changes, to be phased in from July 1, would see full-time and part-time retail workers have their Sunday penalty rates cut from 200 to 150 percent of their standard hourly rate.

Full-time hospitality workers would have their Sunday penalty rate drop from 175 to 150 percent. “This is a pay cut for some of the lowest paid and vulnerable workers in our society and the MUA won’t stand for it,” MUA national secretary Paddy Crumlin said.

“Around 700,000 Australians will be up to $77 a week worse off and we need to act to protect their interests and standard of living.

“Seafarers and stevedores work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year and rightly receive penalty rates for the times they work outside of so-called normal hours.

“When a pay cut can happen to retail and hospitality workers with the same family responsibilities and demands on their time on weekends as any other Australian worker, it is the thin edge of the wedge and equates to an attack on every working family’s rights.”

Crumlin said that the whole deal is designed to remove weekend penalty rates for every worker as the next step. Misrepresentation and political spin is the way the Abbott/Turnbull government and their employer groups build on their failed political legacy.

“Australian workers have had a gutful of that type of politics and if they can’t be home on weekends with their families they want to be compensated in a way where they can find other days to share time.

“The MUA is determined to be at the forefront of defending all Australian workers against this predictable attack on workers’ rights from a Liberal/National coalition that has proven itself to be obsessed by attacking those rights over a long period of time.

“Most Australians are a lot more interested in what the Turnbull government is doing about outrageous executive salaries and the general tax avoidance of its big corporate backers than working on the weekend for bugger all.”

The MUA says that workers deserve better than this self-serving and sycophantic political leadership and pandering to big business – they want lives that secure their families and not undermine them.

Next article – Book Review – The Privatisation of Education

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