Federal Court review of penalty rate cuts for 700,000 workers starts today

The Federal Court judicial review of the Fair Work Commission’s decision to cut to penalty rates for 700,000 retail and hospitality workers has commenced today after a joint application by the SDA and United Voice.

The SDA launched the legal action in response to the penalty rates cuts, backed by the Turnbull Government which will leave retail workers between $2,000 and $6,000 worse off every year.

SDA National Secretary Gerard Dwyer said that retail, fast food and pharmacy workers were already doing it tough and the objective of the appeal was to protect and restore their take home pay.

“With increasing housing, grocery and electricity prices workers were already struggling to make ends meet.”

“A retail worker on $600 per week could expect to lose $80 per week or over $4,000 per year. This is a pay cut that ordinary Australians simply cannot not afford.”

“Despite the knowledge that these penalty rate cuts would make life much harder for hundreds of thousands of Australian workers and their families, the Turnbull Government has thrown their full support behind them and blocked every attempt to remedy the cuts in Federal Parliament.”

“Now, we have taken the fight to the Federal Court.”

The separate applications by the Unions to the Federal Court, which are being jointly heard and determined, will examine the extent to which the decision of the Commission is affected by fundamental jurisdictional error.

The applications are expected to invite consideration by the Court as to whether the Commission considered, and acted within, the proper ambit of its powers in connection with the Modern Awards Review, as well as the reasonableness of findings made by it in the face of the evidence it received.

If jurisdictional error is established on any grounds of review relied upon by the Unions, the Unions will seek that the Penalty Rates decision be quashed and the implemented cuts to take home pay (which commenced on 1 July) will be reversed.  In that scenario, workers whose take home pay is cut from 1 July will be entitled to back pay for the wages lost by them.

“The SDA has a long and proud history of fighting for and achieving good pay and working conditions.”

“Regardless of the outcome of this Federal Court review we will continue this fight to restore cuts to take home pay up to the next Federal election and beyond if necessary” Mr Dwyer said.

Media contact: Darren Rodrigo 0414783405

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