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Issue #1782      June 21, 2017

Exploitation Updates

New data from the McKell Institute shows workers in 45 regional communities will lose $667 million each year from penalty rates cuts, with $289 million of this to leave these electorates altogether to line the pockets of corporations in the cities and overseas.

The research shows that more than 277,000 workers in regional communities will be hit by the cut in Sunday penalty rates and much of the savings business owners stand to make will not feed back into the local economy.

The reason for the severe impact on regional and rural communities is due to:

  • Higher proportion of retail and hospitality workers in rural and regional Australia.
  • These workers earn less than their urban counterparts.
  • Where workers are employed by firms that are not locally owned, the benefits to employers does not stay in local communities.

The report identifies the aggregate reduction of disposable income in each rural and regional electorate across Australia, finding that Leichhardt in Queensland is set to lose the most, with a reduction of up to $21 million in disposable income across the electorate, followed by McEwen in Victoria (approximately $19 million) and Dawson in Queensland (approximately $19 million).

Australian Council of Trade Unions secretary Sally McManus said the disproportionate impact on regional and rural communities meant more pain for people in those areas already feeling the combined impact of rising cost of living and flat or falling wages.

A senate inquiry has revealed that in 2016 in the long-running Carlton and United Breweries (CUB) dispute management kept notes describing it as a “war” and had a strategy to “shoot the sh*t” out of the striking workers in order to avoid paying them their fair wages and conditions.

In August 2016, CUB dumped a long-standing contract that left 55 CUB workers without a job. The workers were asked to reapply for their jobs with a new contractor but with their pay slashed by up to 65 percent and non-union conditions.

This dispute highlights the mentality of employers who feel unrestrained by the current workplace relations system and have the power to attack workers and their rights in any way they see fit.

The outcome of that dispute, which saw the workers return to their jobs with their conditions intact, is to the immense credit of the 55 workers who refused to be pushed around by the company, and to the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union and the Electrical Trade Union who supported them.

Next article – Culture & Life – Fascism rides again

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