Union official says no to attack on penalty rates
THE country's top union official has warned against any push from employers to cut public holiday entitlements and penalty rates for the retail, hospitality and fast food industry.
A Fair Work Australia hearing over the future of 34 modern awards for penalty rates and public holiday rights was held with business groups in Melbourne on Tuesday.
The hearings form part of a huge review of modern awards by the FWA, and the FWA will hear from the Australian Council of Trade Unions on Wednesday.
Ahead of the meetings, ACTU president Ged Kearney said employers had launched a "coordinated attack on penalty rates" in the lead-up to the federal election next year.
Ms Kearney said business and industry groups had written 20 submissions to the FWA advocating cuts to penalty rates for public holidays.
"More workers than ever will be required to work on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Day in the next fortnight. The penalty rates they get may not be there next year," she said.
If these employer applications succeed, 500,000 low-paid workers will be out of pocket by anything up to $105 for a six-hour shift on a Sunday.
While the ACTU has been pushing for the awards to be create more protections, and better award rates for workers, various industry groups have done the opposite.
Among the groups leading the push were the National Retail Association, the Hair and Beauty Industry Association and the Accommodation Association of Australia.
Other groups which have been involved in the process also include Australian Industry Group, Restaurant and Catering Australia and various state governments.
The hearing, before a full bench of the FWA, continues on Wednesday.