Minimum-wage workers to suffer $4m in penalty rates cuts

More than 7990 minimum wage workers in Canberra will suffer an average penalty rate cut of $541 per year from 1 July, resulting in over $4 million in reduced wages for the upcoming year.

The cuts to weekend penalty rates affect workers in the retail, hospitality, fast-food and pharmacy industries. The cuts affect minimum wage (Award workers) who on average are paid less than $38,000 per year.

Canberrans working on Sundays and public holidays receive penalty rates as compensation for being at work during unsociable hours. The vast majority of Canberrans support restoring weekend penalty rates, more than 80% according to multiple opinion polls.

The following quotes are attributable to Alex White, Secretary of UnionsACT:

“The Federal Government continues to wage a war against workers rights, and the truth is that Scott Morrison and the Liberal party voted eight times to cut weekend penalty rates.

“As a result, this Sunday eight thousand Canberrans will be forced to work for less pay. A $541 pay cut is a pay cut that working people can’t afford and don’t deserve.

“Cuts to penalty rates were sold to the Australian public on the lie that it would create jobs; in fact the evidence from the past two years is that not a single job was created by cutting workers’ wages.

“Penalty rates cuts risks pushing low-paid Canberrans into US-style working-poverty. This is exacerbated by the epidemic of wage-theft in low-wage industries.

“Rather than obsess about providing $11,000 in tax cuts to the wealthiest, if the Liberal Government genuinely cared helping working people they would vote to restore penalty rates.

“Let’s face it, no one wants to work on a Sunday or a public holiday, that’s why penalty rates are so important for workers who are forced to make that sacrifice.”

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