Members, we are now half way through the year with the SDA Tasmanian Branch dealing with attacks on the reduction or abolition of penalty rates – attacks which are becoming more prevalent.
In May, a Select Committee of the Legislative Council resolved to hold and report upon the challenges surrounding the growth of business enterprises within Tasmania, with evidence and submissions forwarded to the Productivity Commission in regard to their inquiry.
The Productivity Commission has recommended that penalty rates be abolished, which has the potential to force an eﬀective pay cut of up to $300 per week for a retail worker, without any oﬀset.
The SDA submitted that the rationale of payment of penalty rates for work performed in unsociable hours such as on evenings, nights and weekends is to compensate employees for the disadvantages to which workers are subject to when working such hours.
The SDA has always supported penalty rates as an integral part of the wages system. The SDA is totally opposed to the abolition of penalty rates in the modern award system.
The view that higher rates ought to be diminished on weekends because of deregulated shop trading hours is flawed and incorrect.
Further, Labor has established the Fair Work Taskforce, a Senate Committee that launched its first Hearing in Launceston on Monday 29 June at the Grand Chancellor Hotel.
Four Senators,including Tasmanian Senators Helen Polley and Catryna Bylick, took submissions from SDA workers who were keen to voice their concerns about the impact the Abbott policies are having on jobs, families and communities as well as important workplace entitlements like penalty rates and the minimum wage.
The majority of workers in Australia working within the lowest-paid industries are predominantly female, young and employed on a casual or part-time basis.
The ability of low-paid individuals to improve their position is limited, and is recognised as such by the ILO Convention to which Australia is a signatory.
Balancing the needs of workers and employers requires a fair and strong system, underpinned by supportive legislation.
The key purpose of the Fair Work Act is to deliver such a system, and our members who gathered at the Taskforce Hearing were able to demonstrate how their incomes would be reduced if the penalties they receive were removed, bringing them almost to the poverty line.
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SDA Secretary Peter Malinauskas welcomes a massive win for 20-year-old retail workers, who will be paid the full adult wage under the General Retail Industry Award following the Fair Work Commission ruling today.
Up to 40,000 20-year-olds, across the country will benefit from this decision.
Those affected will receive about an extra $1.80 per hour in their pay packet once the decision handed down by the Commission comes into full effect.
Peter Malinauskas said the decision reflected the overwhelming support behind the campaign, with tens of thousands of supporters willing to take a stand for fair pay.
“This is a huge win for retail workers and this is not something we could have achieved without the support and hard work of our SDA members.
“Retail workers, of all ages, truly believe that you should be paid for the work you do, not how old you are.
“The purpose of the SDA is to protect the wages and working conditions of our members and that’s why we decided to take action against this discriminatory practice.
“We were successful in the Fair Work Commission because it doesn’t make sense to pay 18, 19 and 20-year-olds a lower rate of pay than their co-workers who are performing the exact same duties.”
This decision means 20-year-old retail workers will receive 95 per cent of the full adult rate from 1 July this year and 100 per cent at 1 July 2015.
The SDA will now look to getting the full adult wage for 18 and 19-year-old retail workers.
“This was just the first step, we will continue to campaign for 100% Pay at 18+ and I am confident that we can make this happen,” said Peter.
Currently under the General Retail Industry Award, 20-year-olds are paid 10 per cent less, 19-year-olds are paid 20 per cent less and 18-year-olds are paid 30 per cent less.
The SDA has been campaigning since early 2013 to change the Award for 100% Pay at 18+.