Productivity Commission recommends creating second-class workforce

A second-class workforce would be created if the Productivity Commission recommendation to create a two-tiered penalty rates system is adopted by the Federal Government.

The Federal Government’s Productivity Commission initial report, released today, recommends cutting penalty rates for workers in ‘non-skilled or semi-skilled’ industries such as retail, fast food and hospitality.

Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association National Secretary, Gerard Dwyer, said that with penalty rates being the only thing helping some workers keep their heads above water, a cut to penalty rates would have a devastating impact on hundreds of thousands of workers.  Penalty rates in lower paid industries are a critical part of peoples take home pay.

“Not only are penalty rates very often the only reason a worker will give up time with their family to work on a weekend, but they’re also often the only things helping workers make ends meet,” Mr Dwyer said.

“This report clearly states that workers’ take-home pay will be cut if this recommendation is adopted.  There’s no doubt we’d see a large number of workers forced to work three or four jobs or be forced onto the welfare system.

“The big question is what Tony Abbott does with the Productivity Commission report.  Will he be willing to fight an election on a platform of cutting workers’ rights and take home pay?

“By adopting the recommendation to create a two-tiered penalty rate structure, the Prime Minister would be creating a second-class workforce.  He would be telling hard working people in industries like retail and hospitality that they are less important than the rest of Australia.

“Cutting take home pay for the lower paid will have a devastating impact on consumer spending and therefore a devastating effect on our economy.

“We have always said the Productivity Commission review of the workplace system was a Trojan horse to attack workers’ rights, and these initial recommendations are proof of that.

“Axing penalty rates for hundreds of thousands of our lowest paid workers will have a devastating impact on families tight across the country.  If the Prime Minister adopts these recommendations, he’ll be knowingly making life incredibly difficult for hundreds of thousands of families across the country.

“Penalty rates provide vital compensation for employees working weekends and evenings while the rest of us are relaxing with family and friends.

“To suggest that as a society, we no longer consider Sundays different to any other day, is absurd and completely out of touch.

“Business lobby groups continue to say that penalty rates aren’t sustainable.  What’s not sustainable is forcing workers to work around the clock without compensation for the unsociable hours.




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