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Fairness, jobs and facts – Sunday Penalty Rates

FWC shows compassion the unions don't have for workers.

STOP PRESS 6 June 2017: The decision by the FWA to raise the minimum wage by 3.3% means that small business people who open on Sundays for 7 hours will pay $64 more per employee than the large businesses who have done a deal with the retail union, the SDA. This means we have a two tiered WPR system.

The decision by the Fair Work Commission on implementation of the changes in Sunday penalty rates is a good and compassionate one which gives those effected by the decision time to deal with the changes. It does however mean that the anticipated extra jobs expected to be created on Sundays as a result of the decision may not come to fruition for some time.

Peter Strong CEO of COSBOA said today “the Fair Work Commission has shown more compassion and thought for Sunday workers affected by these changes than the union movement did when they forced Sunday workers onto lower penalty rates some six years ago. When the unions negotiated the changes through their enterprise agreements they made the lower rates take effect immediately on approval of the agreements and in many cases did not inform the Sunday workers of the changes. ‘Disgraceful behaviour’.

The most disappointing part of the Sunday penalty rate debate is the falseness of the unions argument. Sunday penalty rates were removed by the retail union years ago as part of their Enterprise Agreements negotiated with big business and this must be acknowledged.”

Sunday penalty rates FACTS –

An Enterprise Agreement negotiated by the retail union with Coles was shown by a Fair Work Australia review to have disadvantaged over 60% of workers who were worse off as a result of the agreement. It failed the “better off overall test”.

The left wing think tank, the McKell Institute, concedes that at least 50% of Sunday workers are already on the lower penalty rate. We believe the figure is much closer to 80%.

The argument that Sunday penalty rates have always been at the current high rate is false as in two States and one territory the penalty rates increased from 150% to 200% when the fair work system was introduced.

The decision to change Sunday penalty rates to match those of big businesses was not made by government but by an independent body set up by Labor and the unions – the Fair Work Commission.

The five Commission members who made the decision were all appointed by a Labor government and cannot and should not be accused of some political bias.

The review took two years and involved many submissions from unions, employers and others. The decision was a fair and independent decision based on facts and due consideration.

There will be likely around 60,000 new jobs created with penalty rates for small businesses matching the penalty rates for the larger businesses. (as researched by Restaurant and Catering Australia).

Mr Strong added “we hope the continued politicisation of this decision ceases and we can all get on with business and with creating more jobs. As Shakespeare further noted in "Measure for Measure" (and something for those few unions who believe the law is not for them):

"We must not make a scarecrow of the law, setting it up to fear the birds of prey, and let it keep one shape till custom make it their perch and not their terror.”

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