Rocky worker says penalty rate cut is 'laughable'
WEEKEND penalty rates can mean the difference between a day off and working every shift possible for Alexandra Kindness.
So the Rockhampton hospitality worker was gutted by the "unfair” and "laughable” decision by the Fair Work Commission to cut standard hourly Sunday rates.
Ms Kindness even travelled to Melbourne with union United Voice to speak at the commission, sharing her own story.
She said the decision was "incredibly disappointing”.
The changes, which are set to take effect from July, would see Sunday penalty rates for hospitality workers drop from 175% to 150% while casual rates remain unchanged.
Full-time and part-time retail workers will see their rates drop from 200% to 150%, with casuals dropping to 175%.
Ms Kindness said the suggestion affected workers could just look for another job was "laughable” and had a message for the people behind the change.
"It's incredibly unfair,” she said.
"Have you ever been to Rockhampton gents?
"Do you know what industries we have?
"You take what you can get if you're not highly skilled.
"Or you move and the town dies. What would you like us to do?
"We're staying here, trying to build the economy and you guys are just cutting our legs out from underneath us.
"You're hurting the whole economy.”
Ms Kindness said the change would hurt her family's budget, saying Sunday hours made all the difference when it came to affording big bills like electricity and car registration.
"I suppose theoretically they might be able to put chefs and stuff on, but they probably won't,” she said.
"We're all trying to save money in this economy to be honest.
"Just because the wages go down, it doesn't mean people are going to walk through the door.”
United Voice national secretary Jo Schofield said it was up to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to reverse the decision.
"The commission took this step with the backing of the government at a time when wage growth is at a record low and inequality is rising,” she said.
"We will review the decision and investigate all options to ensure the people who give up their weekends to serve the rest of us don't suffer a pay cut they can't afford and don't deserve.”
Capricornia MP Michelle Landry said she hadn't fully reviewed the commission's decision, but expected it to be a hot topic for debate when Parliament resumes next month.
Ms Landry said she wanted more information about the changes and how they would affect workers and businesses, but said the commission had spoken to many employers and employees.
She said the idea behind the change was that more people could be employed if Sunday rates were brought into line with Saturday penalties.