Retail workers will be hit hard by new award

ACCORDING to new research, the Richmond electorate economy would be $6.5million worse off each year, if penalty rates for retail workers were cut.

The Economic Impact of Penalty Rate Cuts on Rural NSW study found that under proposals by the Retail Association, workers in the Richmond electorate would lose about $22.6 million a year in take home pay.

According to "conservative" business modelling, performed by the McKell Institue, the Richmond electorate's 6,700 retail workers would curb their spend in the local economy by $6.5 million.

Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees' Association secretary Bernie Smith warned the flow-on will hit local businesses and economies hard.

"Cutting penalty rates would mean an average loss for a low-paid retail worker of about 4.6% to 16.5% of their take home pay.

"Penalty rate cuts would increase the pressure on balancing already tight family budgets trying to pay for essentials like electricity and food."

Tweed Coles worker Sally Smith* (who is concerned about losing her job for speaking out) said that under the proposed penalty rate cuts, after Modern Award review next year, she could lose $150 from her weekly pay cheque.

"I normally get $20.50 per hour and $31 dollars an hour on Sundays.

"If I gave up the Sunday rates I wouldn't make it, it keeps our family in the black and it's how people get by," said Mrs Smith.

With an income of $480 per week Sally said many of her colleagues have a low quality of life as it is.

"I know people that are struggling to pay rent; they can't take their kids to the footy, because they can't afford anything as it is, which is sad."

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