New research shows an upcoming public holiday “bonanza” will result in $80 million in lost pay for more than half a million Australian workers during a ten-day period stretching from Good Friday due to penalty rate cuts.
Workers who don’t work on public holidays and weekends will only work three days across the ten-day period.
Hundreds of thousands of Australians are reportedly arranging to take three days leave for an extended 10-day holiday.
But a special report by leading economist Dr Jim Stanford shows workers in the hospitality and retail sectors – where work does not shut down on weekends and holidays – are facing a wages hit of $80 million across the public holiday period due to penalty rate cuts.
Representing the huge hit to workers’ pay packets from the July 2017 penalty rate cuts, Dr Stanford also calculates Australian workers stand to lose a total of $630 million this financial year due to the cuts, increasing to $1.25 billion annually when the cuts are fully phased in.
Dr Stanford, the Director of the Centre for Future Work based at the Australia Institute says, “The coming cluster of public holidays offers a unique and welcome opportunity for most Australians to enjoy a late-summer break from work.
“For those who must do their jobs, and because of lower penalty rates, they will experience an aggregate loss of income in the order of $80 million over the 10 day period.
“That loss will get even bigger if the next stages of penalty rate reductions are allowed to proceed. Once the penalty rates reductions are fully implemented the cumulative losses for a similar holiday would equal $107 million in lost wages.”
Dr Stanford’s report also rejects arguments put by business lobby groups that penalty rate cuts would lead to greater job creation.
He finds instead that the retail and hospitality sectors have been among the worst job-creators in Australia’s economy since the penalty rate reductions began in July 2017.
Ben Redford, Assistant Secretary United Voice Victoria says, “An $80 million wage loss across the upcoming cluster of public holidays is unacceptable. It is a wage loss that these workers can’t afford and don’t deserve.
“In the lead-up to Easter, United Voice wants to pay tribute to the millions of workers in industries that rely on penalty rates to make ends meet.
“They shouldn’t have to put up with lost wages from penalty rate cuts, or live in fear that they will be next on the chopping block.
“The Coalition government voted eight times in favour of these cuts for retail and hospitality workers.
“United Voice represents many working people in industries who rely on penalty rates to make ends meet, including cleaners, aged care workers and security guards. They don’t trust the Coalition government’s record on penalty rates. They are rightly asking, ‘who’s next’?
“That’s why United Voice is running a massive, multi-million dollar campaign against the Liberal-National Government’s cuts to penalty rates.”
The Secretary of the ACTU, Sally McManus says, "Scott Morrison voted 8 times to cut penalty rates. This Easter break those cuts are taking $80 million out of the hands of working people.
"The penalty rate cuts have driven hundreds of thousands of workers and their families towards poverty. These cuts affected some of our lowest paid workers. The Morrison Government told us they would create jobs, which of course has not happened.
"When working people have to cut down to the absolute essentials, it hurts small businesses the most.
"The money which has been ripped from working people has been taken as profit. Working people need a pay rise, not pay cuts.
"The ALP's commitment to reverse these cuts and ensure no more happen in future is a clear example of what a government can do to ensure that working people's wages go forward, not backward."
Dr Jim Stanford’s briefing paper ‘April Holiday Cluster Highlights Income Losses from Reduced Penalty Rates’ is available here.