The Shop Distributive and Allied Employees’ (SDA) Union has hailed today’s Full Bench Decision in the Fair Work Commission to retain the existing penalty rates for retail, fast food and hairdressing employees, as part of the two year review of Modern Awards.
The SDA ran a huge case in defence of penalty rates, in response to twelve employer applications which sought to remove or reduce more than twenty-five penalty and overtime entitlements for many of Australia’s lowest paid workers.
National Secretary Joe de Bruyn said today that the decision to retain the penalty rates for evenings and weekends was a huge success against sustained attacks by employers to erode the wages and living conditions of working Australians.
“Today’s decision proves once again that that penalty rates are as fair and relevant as ever for people who have to work evening and weekends.” Mr de Bruyn said.
“The employers didn’t substantiate their misconceived claims that people would still work evenings and weekends if the penalties were lower. Nor did their case back up their argument that modern awards don’t reflect the modern retail or fast food industries.” Mr de Bruyn said.
“The SDA proved through extensive research and expert evidence that that we do have modern awards that allow for extended hours of trading, often at equivalent or lower costs than before award modernisation.” Mr de Bruyn said
“The SDA also proved that evenings and weekends remain as important as ever to Australians, and that working those unsociable times continues to impact upon people’s ability to take part in family and social occasions.” Mr de Bruyn said.
“Today’s decision reminds employers that there is an impact of working late nights and weekends and that their employees should be compensated accordingly for working those times.” Mr de Bruyn said.
Mr de Bruyn said while the SDA was delighted with the penalty rates decision, employers continue to seek to erode more and more workers’ entitlements in the next stages of the review, with regular rosters for part timers and travel allowances among the targeted entitlements. Other attacks on entitlements proposed by employer groups include:
- Reduction in casual loading from 25% to 23%, for retail, fast food and hairdressing workers
- Reduction of the base rate for retail and fast food workers, to 90% and 78% respectively
- Taking away rest breaks for workers doing 4 hour shifts
- Split shifts for full time workers
- Introduction of piece rates for fast food drivers
“There’s no time to rest in this environment. We’re delighted that we have won the penalty rates case, but we’re already preparing the next part of our fight to protect these other fundamental entitlements for workers.’ Mr de Bruyn said.
The SDA is the largest union in Australia, representing over 212,000 employees nationally. The majority of its members are young people and women working in the retail, fast food, warehouse, drug and cosmetic manufacturing and distribution, hairdressing, pharmacies and modelling industries.
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