Australian industrial tribunal slashes workers’ wages


Australian industrial tribunal slashes workers’ wages

Oscar Grenfell

24 February 2017

The Fair Work Commission (FWC), the federal government’s industrial tribunal, yesterday cut wage rates for workers on Sundays and public holidays across the retail, hospitality, pharmacy and fast food industries.

The wage reductions, which target some of the lowest-paid workers, will be used by the corporate elite to step up the assault on the wages and conditions of the entire working class. Employer groups and media editorials are already demanding deeper and more sweeping cuts.

Around one million workers will be directly affected by the pay cuts. Another three million, who work on weekends, likewise face the future prospect of being stripped of the after-hours penalty rates on which they depend to live.

The ruling follows a protracted campaign by business groups, the financial press and successive Labor and Liberal-National governments against penalty rates, which were first introduced in 1947 for after-hours work.

It was the Labor government of Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard that established the FWC in 2009, with the full support of the trade unions, and then included penalty rates in a four-year FWC review, aimed at stripping back conditions in industrial awards.

Under the FWC ruling, Sunday penalty rates will be reduced from 175 to 150 percent of the base rate of pay for permanent employees in the hospitality industry. Permanent fast food workers face a reduction from 150 to 125 percent, while casuals will suffer a cut from 175 to 150 percent.

For permanent retail and pharmacy workers, the rate will be slashed from 200 to 150 percent, while for casuals, it will be reduced from 200 to 175 percent. Across the sectors, public holiday rates will decrease from 250 percent to 225…

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