HARD AT WORK: Penalty rates are out the door for some of the country's lowest paid employees.
HARD AT WORK: Penalty rates are out the door for some of the country's lowest paid employees. Rawpixel

Penalty rates: How much will you really lose?

THE Queensland Council of Trade Unions say they are playing a waiting game before acting in their fight against any cuts to penalty rates, but is it the only game the unions are playing?

The Queensland Council of Union's, Craig Allen says the QCU is communicating with other unions to determine a course of action over the campaign.

But the union campaign has already been debunked as misleading and mischievous among claims that 700,000 mainly young Australians would have their pay cut by 'up to' $6000.

A quick scan of recent media shows the unions talking up the $6000 figure, suggesting it will hurt mainly the lowest paid and youngest Australians.

"They need the money. Most them are not wealthy people and just get by and survive," Mr Allen said yesterday.

"A lot of them are kids, uni students who need the money."

His comments came following a CFMEU decision to 'man the trenches' alongside Australian workers.

CFMEU said it would "shoulder arms" in an attempt to stop the war on a fair go.

But a quick look at the claims and the sums don't add up.

Are the lowest paid, young and most vulnerable Australians really likely to lose more than $100 a week?

Last week, Coles employee Trent Hunter stood alongside opposition leader Bill Shorten to protest against the changes.

"I rely on Sunday penalty rates. I am rostered on every single Sunday," he said.

"I will now lose $109 a week, that is insane.

"I rely on the penalty rates to make ends meet and to pay for my fuel, my rent and to pay for my food."

It turned out that Trent Hunter was a Labor party member employed under an EBA and stood to lose nothing. But even if he was employed as a casual, as most Sunday workers are, and worked an eight-hour shift, as most casual Sunday workers don't, he would stand to lose $38.88 - one packet of cigarettes in today's world.

It's still a paycut and no-one likes those, but if the country is to have a rational debate on the merits of penalty rate cuts, it should start with the truth.

According to a spreadsheet provided to The Morning Bulletin by Mr Allen, it's pharmacy managers who stand to lose $6000 a year.

Craig Allen last night denied claims that 700,000 mostly young Australians would lose 'up to' $6000 a year were mischievous and misleading.

He stood by his comments saying "many pharmacy managers were young" and young people would lose 'up to' $6000.

Splashy headlines and irresponsible, politically motivated claims initially had many of the countries lowest paid employees afraid they were losing their Sunday rates altogether.

The unions and political parties are well aware most people don't read the detail, preferring to scroll headlines and the social media backlash.

We have provided the truth in the figures below, as provided by the unions when it was clear that losing one-eighth of their Sunday pay, or even a quarter was not going to amount to $100 for anywhere near 700,000 people.

In Mr Allen's own words, a lot of them 'are kids and uni students'.

"Where the fight back takes place, wherever there is a picket, a rally, a campaign.... whatever it is, you will see us there standing shoulder to shoulder with those under attack."

Fight the good fight for sure, but just make sure you aren't scaring people with politically motivated, misleading comments.

THE FACT$

  • Casual fast food, retail or pharmacy worker (current Sunday rate $34.02) would lose $38.88 per eight-hour shift or $2021.98 per 52 week year (175% - 150
  • Permanent fast food worker, (current Sunday rate $29.16) would lose $38.88 per eight-hour shift or $2021.98 per 52 week year (150% - 125%)
  • Permanent retail or pharmacy assistant (current Sunday rate $38.88) would lose $77.76 per eight hour shift or $4,043.52 per 52 week year (200% - 150%)
  • Permanent pharmacy manager (current Sunday rate $63.55) would lose $127.09 per eight hour shift or $6,608.93 per 52 week year (200% - 150%)
  • Hospitality - no changes to casuals
  • Hospitality permanent - (current Sunday rate $31.87) would lose $36.42 per eight hour shift or $1893.84 per 52 week year (175% - 150%)
  • Trade qualified cook - (current Sunday rate $39.36) would lose $44.98 per eight hour shift or $2,338.96 per 52 week year (175% - 150%)


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