Some of Australia’s lowest-paid workers are facing a penalty rate cut this weekend – with the full force of the cuts still to come. The next 10 percentage point cut will begin from Sunday 1 July 2018, with another cut still to come in 12 months.

On Sunday hospitality workers will lose approximately $16 for working their Sunday shift, compared to doing the same work as last weekend. This is the next step towards hospitality workers losing $40 a week or over $2,000 a year once the full cuts are implemented.

There is no equity in a system that enforces a pay cut for some of Australia’s lowest-paid workers when inequality is at all-time highs. This is a fundamental attack on working people.

The cut to a worker’s Sunday penalty rate largely negates the recent small rise in the minimum wage of 64 cents an hour.

The net effect is penalty rate cuts make the increase in the minimum wage meaningless – effectively trapping low-paid workers in a wage crisis shown by historically low levels of wage growth.

Jo-anne Schofield, National Secretary of United Voice, the hospitality union says, “The system is broken for Australian workers about to be hit financially with another penalty rate cut. This next penalty rate transition wipes out the bulk of the minimum wage increase. This is an attack on working people.

“These changes to penalty rates represent a pay cut that weekend workers can’t afford and don’t deserve.

“When our industrial relations laws are used by employers to cut the pay of low paid workers and when our government refuses to utter a word in support of workers, the system is broken. The system is broken if hardworking hospitality workers can have their pay cut for doing the same shift as just the weekend before.

“Malcolm Turnbull could stop this inequity now, if he has the will. The Turnbull government’s inaction has shown that protecting the living standards of working Australians is simply not a priority for them.

“Hospitality workers are calling on their employers to do the right thing and commit to not cutting the wages of their staff. Businesses can make the choice to support their staff and commit to not cutting weekend rates by 10 percentage points this coming weekend.”

Clubs continue to attack penalty rates:

The day after the harsh 10 percentage point cut comes in, Clubs Australia will be back in the Fair Work Commission on Monday 2 July, continuing to attack the penalty rates of club workers. The wealthy clubs sector will be aggressively pursuing their attempts to merge into the Hospitality Award so as to reap the benefit of the penalty rates cuts to workers under that Award. 

United Voice slams Clubs Australia’s persistent attempts to cut the penalty rates of club workers.

Jo-anne Schofield says, “It remains inconceivable that the Fair Work Commission has provided this opportunity to Clubs Australia to re-prosecute their failed case from the original penalty rates decision. This is out of line with community expectations of justice and of treating workers fairly. The clubs sector needs to withdraw this case immediately and stop their attempts to cut the pay of the workers who are the backbone of the sector.”

Hospitality workers need industry bargaining:

Workers’ voices in the system are not being heard because the system is stacked against them. The penalty rate cuts are a clear sign that the laws in this country are out of step with community values, and those laws will need to change.

United Voice is calling for the industrial relations system to move to an industry-based collective bargaining system. Only six per cent of workers in the hospitality sector have been able to access bargaining on an enterprise basis. It simply does not work. Workers need to be able to have a say about their pay and conditions. So, workers in industries like hospitality can bargain together, jointly and collectively with their employers to secure a fair deal.

United Voice will keep challenging the system if it fails to restore these central principles.

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