STANDING FIRM: Naomi Worrall and Megan White-Fox took the fight for workers' rights to the Lismore Car Boot market yesterday.
STANDING FIRM: Naomi Worrall and Megan White-Fox took the fight for workers' rights to the Lismore Car Boot market yesterday. Ross Kendall

Australian unions fight on for penalty rates in Lismore

UPPORTING penalty rates to remain "a common-sense component of our wage system" was the main thrust of an ongoing campaign by Australian unions in Lismore on Sunday.

"No one wants a pay cut at Christmas so we are getting plenty of support," Naomi Worrall from the Northern Rivers Unionist Network said.

Ms Worrall was helping the Australian Council of Trade Unions with their campaign to protect worker rights, at a stall at Lismore's Car Boot market yesterday.

"We are hear today to support the Build a Better Future campaign, that includes fighting for penalty rates," she said.

The new Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was a fresh face who offered a change in style, but he has exactly the same policies as the Abbott government, Ms Worrall said.

"We haven't seen any policy changes," she said.

In the Lismore area a lot of people work in the service and tourism sector as well as in health and carer roles where penalty rates make-up as much as 30 per cent of a pay packet.

"These people just can't afford to live without penalty rates, especially around Christmas," she said.

People working in these sectors were often low income earners anyway, she said.

Penalty rates were also one way to really differentiate work time from leisure time she said.

If penalty rates are taken away there is a real danger that weekend family time will be lost she said.

It could also mean people will have to work weekends and miss out on the opportunity to join sporting and other volunteer groups.

A lot of volunteer services required people to have time off at the same time she said.

"Penalty rates protect our weekends and other holidays," she said.

At the stall people were encouraged to write 'Santa Letters' to Kevin Hogan asking him to support penalty rates.

Mr Hogan said he did not support the withdrawal of penalty rates.

"This is a Labor and union beat up. The Government has no plans to change the way penalty rates are set," he said.

"The Government's position on penalty rates has clearly and consistently been that penalty rates are a matter for the Fair Work Commission to determine, not Government."



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