A new national poll of 3,273 people carried out for hospitality union United Voice reveals a majority of Australians (57%) would support hospitality workers taking strike action to protect their weekend penalty rates.
Employers have a case before the Fair Work Commission seeking to slash weekend penalty rates for two million hospitality and retail workers. A decision is expected at any time.
They risk widespread community anger and backlash if they attempt to cut wages with 64.6% of respondents (2 out of 3 Australians) saying they would view employers who passed on any rate cut negatively or very negatively.
This lends support to United Voice’s campaign to ask clubs and other hospitality employers to pledge not to pass on the wage cut should the Fair Work Commission rule against workers.
Community support for weekend rates remains overwhelming: 75.9% of people who don’t even work on weekends support penalty rates for those who do. This is in line with previous research.
The poll of 3,273 residents across Australia was conducted by ReachTEL for United Voice on the evening of 25 November.
Key findings relating to people who work weekends (31.2% of all respondents):
- 49.6% are unlikely to continue to work weekends and public holidays if penalty rates are cut (36.9% very unlikely, 12.7% somewhat unlikely).
- 55.5% report that the impact on them of a cut in penalty rates would be very high (40.4%) or high (15.1%).
David McElrea, Assistant National Secretary comments on the poll:
One thing is clear from this research: employers who attempt to cut wages by attacking weekend rates face a community backlash.
Hospitality workers and their families are heading into this holiday season not knowing if they are about to suffer the largest pay cut since the Great Depression.
The community doesn’t buy the argument that people who give up precious time with family and friends to work unsociable hours should cop pay cuts so employers can have bigger profits.
Australians know that the people who work hard on weekends to make sure the rest of us can enjoy our time off do not deserve a sudden pay cut. And they are ready and willing to support these workers to prevent that from happening.
Hospitality workers hope the Fair work Commission will do the right thing, but if they do not, it is heartening to know the community will back them if they need to take strong action to save their weekend rates.