OPENING just two days of this Easter weekend has added an extra $1500 to Cottontails Winery’s wages bill, owner Gerry McCormick estimates.
The sudden spike in costs Mr McCormick has been hit with have been echoed at many businesses who chose to open over the Easter weekend, with hospitality workers entitled to be paid at double time and a half.
NSW and Victoria are the only states where all four days of the Easter break are designated as public holidays.
“The normal base rate for our casuals in the bar is a bit over $18 and we pay more than that,” Mr McCormick said.“When you put 150 per cent on that, it goes to $45 (per hour) and you just can’t absorb that.”
Many hospitality businesses in Wagga either shut some days of the weekend or operated reduced hours due to the increased wages cost they faced.
To recoup the extra cost his business faced, Mr McCormick imposed a 15 per cent surcharge on food and drink over the weekend –a necessary decision he said was taken reluctantly.
“I don’t want to charge more money but I’m forced to,” he said.
Other business owners in the region, including Brian Weekes, the owner of Temora’s White Rose Cafe, have spoken out over the debilitating impact penalty rates had over Easter.
“We work like mongrel dogs over Easter for nothing,” he told theTemora Independentlast week. “The staff get everything but the business gets nothing.”
Business chambers around the state, including in Wagga, have been driving a push to have penalty rates reduced, which has seen significant backlash from sections of the community.
Mr McCormick insists he doesn’t want to see themthem abolished, but he would like to see the system changed.
“We agree there should be penalty rates for working on public holidays because people have to give up their time,” he said.
“We’ve got a very good team …they provide a good service and they’re worth paying, there’s no question about that.”
Instead, he would like to see them reduced with the base pay rate bumped up –a solution that would see employees continue to earn the same average wage they do now while smoothing out wages flow.
South Australia has recently adopted reforms similar to Mr McCormick’s proposal.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.