Barnett to cut penalty rates

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Colin Barnett has ramped up his attack on some of the lowest-paid workers in WA by revealing if re-elected in March he will cut Sunday penalty rates for hospitality, tourism and retail workers. 

Mr Barnett announced in The West Australian last week that he wants to scrap Sunday penalty rates to Saturday rates for West Australians employed by small and micro-businesses .

The Premier claims it will boost jobs in the State, despite a recent confidential analysis by financial group Citi concluding penalty rate cuts would boost retailer profits rather than jobs

While at this stage Mr Barnett has said the cut will only apply to hospitality, tourism and retail workers, United Voice WA Secretary Carolyn Smith said any industry could be next and all Union members should join the campaign to Save Our Weekend

His attacks on penalty rates follow suit with his federal counterpart Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull who is also seeking a cut to penalty rates of workers employed by mid-to-large businesses.

Under industrial relations jurisdiction the State retains coverage of small and micro-businesses that provide an estimated 11 to 16 per cent of the private sector workforce.

Opposition Leader Mark McGowan however has vowed to support workers' and their right for penalty rates. 

In August, Mr McGowan wrote to the Fair Work Commission to oppose any change to penalty rates in the awards currently under Federal review.

United Voice are vehemently opposed to Mr Barnet’s shortsighted plan, and Ms Smith said members will be campaigning to Save Our Weekend right up to State Election.

“Mr Barnett needs to understand weekends still matter, people get penalty rates because they lose out on precious time spent with their family," Ms Smith said.

“We are coming up to the Christmas period where thousands of people will miss out on family time and special celebrations because they have to work on weekends, public holidays and even Christmas Day to ensure they are able to put a roof over their head and food on their table.

“This will be a sudden pay cut for some of the State’s lowest-paid workers who can’t afford to lose that money."

Ms Smith said during the Federal Election United Voice targeted marginal seats on the issue of penalty rates, and in the end that saw several Liberal politicians lose their jobs. 

“Following Mr Barnett’s comments we will be targeting marginal seats leading up to the State Election in March and fighting against any cuts to penalty rates," Ms Smith said.

 “Mr Barnett is incredibly shortsighted if he thinks this is the way to dig himself out of the hole that he has created with unemployment in Western Australia the highest in the country.

“And after putting Western Australia in a record amount of debt Mr Barnett shows he has no compassion and is happy to sacrifice some of the lowest-paid workers in an effort to buy business votes. 

“But he will be doing the economy a disservice, because with more money in their pockets these workers are able to boost different sections of our local economy.

“For these workers, and our members, the choice come March 2017 is pretty clear.

“The people will speak with their votes.”

Don't think Sunday penalty rates should be cut? Sign our petition here. Or volunteer during the election campaign to Save Our Weekend by joining the Burgundy Wave

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