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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Penalty rates cut

There is a move by the Abbott government to abolish penalty rates for those working after hours.  

We like to think Australia is an egalitarian country, but we know it isn't true and when the subject of penalty rates comes up, it brings out our true feelings about class - those who have money enough to start a small business, and those who don't.

The unions say penalty rates were hard-fought and workers should be compensated.  Small business owners say they are sending them broke.

From the owner's point of view, abolishing penalty rates will help them grow and they will be able to employ more staff.  But the waitress will still have to give up her Sundays, take a cut in wages and work longer shifts to make up for it.

An adult waitress at a cafe or restaurant gets $16.85 an hour for her work Monday to Friday, but if she works one of her ordinary shifts on a Sunday, she gets $25.28 an hour.  This is equivalent to $695.10 a week before tax.  If her Sunday penalty rate was scrapped, her weekly wage would drop to $640.20, a cut of $54.90 a week.

Restaurant and Catering Australia (RCA) last year proposed no penalties be paid for work on Saturday or Sunday or between 10 pm to 7 am Monday to Friday.  Instead, they want rates only to apply when an employee had worked six or seven consecutive days. 

RCA say that if cuts were made, more restaurants could afford to open on Sundays, but is this true?  I live in Sydney and find the restaurants I want to go to are all open on Sunday and although their prices are definitely inflated, it doesn't stop me from going.

It's easy to fence sit on this one, but I'm going to bat for the waitress.