Extract from The Guardian
Tuesday 27 June 2017 19.30 AEST Last modified on Tuesday 27 June 2017 19.32 AEST
Bill Shorten has pledged to legislate to restore cuts to Sunday penalty rates of between 25% and 50%, due to come into effect on 1 July.
He told the Australian Council of Trade Union’s 90th anniversary dinner that a Labor government would pass legislation to restore the cuts made by the Fair Work Commission to the retail, fast food, hospitality and pharmacy awards in February.
The move would restore the cuts for 700,000 workers from the time legislation was passed.
A Labor bill to prevent penalty rate cuts has already passed the Senate but has yet to pass the lower house due the government’s slim majority.
Shorten contrasted the bill to the 2% temporary deficit levy for those earning more than $180,000, which is due to end on Friday.
The levy, introduced by Tony Abbott in 2014, was due to be removed after three years. On Saturday, tax rates for high-income earners will drop from 47% to 45% and Malcolm Turnbull has rejected Labor calls to retain the levy.
“This weekend in Malcolm Turnbull’s Australia someone who earns a million dollars will get a tax cut worth $16,400 and a mum working a Sunday shift in retail will get her penalty rates cut,” Shorten said.
Shorten hit back at Coalition criticism that as a union boss he had traded away penalty rates in enterprise bargaining agreements.
“Not traded for a better base rate of pay, not negotiated for improved conditions – just a straight-up cut to wages,” Shorten said.
“I promise you this: a new Labor government will restore the Sunday penalty rates of every single worker affected by this cut. And we will change the law to protect the take-home pay of working Australians into the future.”
Labor has opposed the FWC penalty rates decision since it was made in February, even though it had championed the independent tribunal. But the workplace relations spokesman Brendan O’Connor has said Labor could not tolerate the significant net loss to workers without compensation.
At the time, Justice Iain Ross, president of the commission, said it decided on the cuts because they were not a “fair and relevant” safety net and agreed with employers that reducing rates could boost employment.
He acknowledged the cuts to Sunday rates would “inevitably cause some hardship to the employees affected”, and promised transitional arrangements would mitigate that hardship.
The transitional arrangements mean that the total cut will come in over three years.