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International Women’s Day – And Liberals’ Attack Penalty Rates

Media Release
Adam Bandt 5 Mar 2014

The Greens are defending workers on low-incomes and working unsociable hours, as Tony Abbott targets penalty rates. 

Greens Deputy Leader and Member for Melbourne Adam Bandt MP said that the majority of casual workers are women. 

“The Coalition is marking Women’s Day [on Sat March 8] by coming after penalty rates,” said Mr Bandt.  

“Many Australian women, who depend on penalty rates for their and their families’ livelihoods, would be devastated if they are cut. 

“Axing penalty rates would hurt the tens of thousands of women – nurses, cleaners, hospitality staff – who work unsociable hours – and who are rightly compensated because of it. 

“Tony Abbott axing penalty rates is a terrifying prospect for thousands of Australians, men and women, on low incomes and who work unsociable hours.

“Despite the Coalition promising that no worker would be worse off under its industrial relations policies, we know they have penalty rates in their sites. 

“Liberal Employment Minister Eric Abetz will introduce a bill targeting penalty rates. And now Victorian Liberal MP Dan Tehan has now suggested halving Sunday penalty rates. 

“That would devastate the incomes of so many hard-pressed workers and would only increase poverty.

“And it would undermine the Australian way of life, rightly envied the world-over.  

“The Greens will defend the weekend. It is an important part of this country’s our way of life. 

“Tony Abbott must not be allowed to erode it by cutting penalty rates as if it was just another working weekday,” said Mr Bandt.  

According to United Voice: 

1. 1.5 million Australian workers receive penalty rates; 4.6 million workers (48.1% of the workforce) are entitled to penalty rates for a public holiday and 4.2 million (44.2%) for a weekend, if they work at those times.

2. There are 869,800 Australians who usually work Sundays in their main job. Not all of those workers would receive penalty rates, but for many the Sunday shift provides the boost needed to make ends meet.

3. Case study 1 Cleaner - $86.34 a week worse off: A full-time cleaner at a hotel working their ordinary hours from Sunday to Thursday is paid a minimum of $726.54 a week, or $37,882 a year. If his Sunday penalty rates were scrapped, his wage would be cut by $86.34 a week, and his annual wage would be reduced to $33,380 before tax.

4. Case study 2 Waitress - $2862 a year worse off: An adult waitress at a café or restaurant only gets paid $16.85 an hour for her work Monday to Friday, but if she works one of her ordinary shifts on a Sunday, she makes $25.28 an hour instead. This is equivalent to just $695.10 a week before tax. If her Sunday penalty rate was scrapped, her weekly wage would go down to $640.20, which is a wage cut of $54.90 a week, or $2862 a year, on an already low salary.

5. 97% of Australians surveyed* agreed that weekends were an important time for families.

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