Battle over Easter weekend penalty rates – business groups accuse unions of fomenting boycotts

Written by admin on 05/07/2018 Categories: 南京夜网

One of the Too Big Too Ignore campaign posters displayed in Sydney cafes and shops over the Easter weekend.
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One of the Too Big Too Ignore campaign posters displayed in Sydney cafes and shops over the Easter weekend.

One of the Too Big Too Ignore campaign posters displayed in Sydney cafes and shops over the Easter weekend.

One of the Too Big Too Ignore campaign posters displayed in Sydney cafes and shops over the Easter weekend.

The battle over the future of penalty rates escalated over the Easter weekend, with business groups accusing union members of threatening boycotts against businesses involved in a campaign to cut rates.

Chambers of commerce encouraged businesses to put up posters in their shop windows over the Easter long weekend as part of their Small Business: Too Big to Ignore campaign.

The posters say: “We’re sorry that we will be closed. We’d like to be open to serve you. We’d like to give local people jobs. But the penalty rates are too high.”

Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive officer Kate Carnell on Friday said that some union members had tried to intimidate businesses by threatening to boycott them if they displayed the posters.

She said the business industry’s campaign aimed to achieve a reduction in penalty rates, not their abolition.

“We don’t suggest having no penalty rates,” she said. “What we have argued for is a reduction. The problem is with public holiday rates of double time and a half which can mean paying staff a minimum of $50 per hour which can be prohibitive.”

The Fair Work Commission is reviewing proposals by employer groups to reduce penalty rates as part of a four-year review of all modern awards.

The Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association on Friday released findings of a new research poll found more than three-quarters of the 1000 people it surveyed believe people should be paid penalty rates as compensation for working outside normal hours. It found that 83 per cent of people believe that workers should be paid extra for working on public holidays.

The poll also found that 66 per cent of people agreed that employers would not be able to get employees to work outside normal hours without penalty rates. And 72 per cent said they relied on penalty rates to provide an adequate income.

SDA national secretary Gerard Dwyer said the research shows the push by businesses to cut penalty rates is out of step with community views.

“Australians simply don’t buy the idea that our personal lives should be sacrificed to help keep big businesses happy,” Mr Dwyer said.

“Over Easter, tens of thousands of workers across the country will be missing out on family events and holidays so they can go to work. How anyone can suggest that those workers don’t deserve to be fairly compensated for keeping shops running while the rest of the country is off enjoying the Easter period is beyond me.”

The SDA research conducted by Essential Research also found 40 per cent of people said their work, or the work of their immediate family member, interferes with family activities, exercise and relaxation.

“The push by business lobby groups to cut weekend rates doesn’t sit well with the majority of Australians,” Mr Dwyer said.

In South Australia, the SDA has struck a deal with the business groups for cuts to weekend and public holiday penalty rates for shop workers.

South Australia’s chamber of commerce, Business SA, said it had agreed with the union on a template enterprise agreement that retailers can use to seek agreements with employees, allowing businesses to open on Sundays and public holidays.

Business SA’s chief executive officer Nigel McBride said the agreement significantly reduces penalty rates to retailers on weekends and public holidays and was voluntary for both the employer and employees.

“We will still be seeking to have the Fair Work Commission reduce penalty rates in the Retail Award. But there is no certainty that the commission will do this,” he said.

In Victoria, the hospitality industry has claimed the introduction of a public holiday on Easter Sunday could cripple some businesses.

This year will be the first time public holiday penalty rates will apply for Easter Sunday.

The Victorian government has introduced two new public holidays this year for Easter Sunday and the eve of the AFL grand final.

A survey conducted by Tourism Accommodation Australia of 1000 members last year showed that 67 per cent of hoteliers said they would be closing outlets or reducing services because of crippling penalty rates.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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