The Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Union (SDA), which covers retail, fast food and warehouse workers, said the decision of the Fair Work Commission to slash penalty rates for some workers would cost $1 billion in lost wages and not create a single job.
“At a time when wages growth is at a record low, Australian workers need a pay rise not a pay cut,” said SDA national secretary Gerard Dwyer.
“This is devastating for workers and their families.”
Blacktown Mayor Stephen Bali said the move to change public holiday penalty rates from July 1 would have “long term devastating consequences” for the almost 25,000 workers in the Blacktown area.
“If only 20 per cent of these employees work on a Sunday or public holiday that would mean approximately $12 million in wages will be taken from workers in Blacktown city each year,” Mr Bali said.
“If a person is giving up their weekend to serve us, then they are entitled to something extra.”
Rooty Hill resident Sharlene Medana said any cut to her take home pay would create hardship at home where she supports her husband who is on a part disability pension.
“We have been travelling to Westmead Hospital at least three times a week for dialysis. The loss of even $50 to $70 would put an even bigger strain on our lifestyle as we need essentials like petrol and food,” she said.
Mrs Medana works 76 hours a fortnight for Spotlight, including every second weekend.
“Spotlight isn’t under an agreement so we are at the mercy of head office saying ‘This is good for the company’. They tell you the company you work for will be able to give you more hours because they are saving money but if you can’t work the hours they give it to someone else or better still absorb the hours and money and the managers get a bonus for saving the company money.
“We hope and pray that some politician will stand up for us lowly paid weekend workers.”
Small business minister Michael McCormack said penalty rates had become an impost on business owners and the decision of the Fair Work Commission would encourage more people, particularly casuals, to get a job.
NSW Business Chamber chief Stephen Cartwright said the adjustment in penalty rates for Sundays would mean businesses could remain open and be fully staffed.
“Remember when these venues are closed, casual staff not only don’t receive a penalty loading, they don’t receive any wage,” he said.
Penalty rates in detail:
Sunday penalty rates for full-time and part-time retail workers will be cut from 200 per cent to 150 per cent of their standard hourly rate or to 175 per cent for casuals.
Fast food workers will see a reduction from 150 per cent to 125 per cent. For hospitality workers, the rate will change from 175 per cent to 150 per cent.