The Australian gets it wrong on penalty rates again

The Australian article ‘To the rescue of shafted workers’ (25/3) contains factual errors which misrepresent the wage outcomes that KFC employees receive and purposely conflates unrelated matters with the intention of defaming the union movement and its legitimate bargaining practices.

The article claims that a KFC worker aged 21 or over is on $19.44 an hour. In fact, under their union negotiated EBA, KFC workers receive a base rate of $21.19 per hour.

Their weekly wage of $805.30 is $66.50 higher than the $738.80 that workers receive on the Fast Food Industry Award.

This is a glaring factual error which serves to undermine the article’s entire premise that fast food workers are worse off under EBAs.

The article then seeks to conflate the ‘rolling up’ of penalty rates in EBAs, a standard practice since the 1980s and endorsed by the ACTU with the ‘corrupting payments’ legislated for by the Turnbull Government just over a week ago.

They are not the same thing. One relates to legitimate industrial bargaining activity, undertaken by unions with business, voted on by members and overseen by the FWC. The other relates to criminal activity and the effort to portray one as the other is reckless and deceitful.

Given the transient nature of the industry, fast food has been a very challenging area in which to organise and to achieve wage gains.

Since the SDA gained national responsibility for the industry over two decades ago it has worked hard to improve conditions for workers, with our first major achievement securing a 38-hour week and increasing the weekly pay rate, which was $40 per week below the comparable retail rate in some jurisdictions. Securing hourly rate parity with retail was one of our most significant wins in the creation of the 2010 Modern Awards.

The fact is, union negotiated EBAs have delivered strong wages and working conditions for Australian fast food workers who are amongst the best in the world.

The union movement is more than willing to conduct this debate on penalty cuts on the facts. The community expects that journalists at least attempt to do the same.

Comments are closed.