MEDIA RELEASE: Productivity Commission recommends creating second-class workforce

August 5, 2015 Media Releases Member News

– MEDIA RELEASE: 5 August 2015 –

A second-class workforce would be created if the Productivity Commission recommendation to create a two-tiered penalty rates system is adopted by the Federal Government.

The Federal Government’s Productivity Commission initial report, released today, recommends cutting penalty rates for workers in ‘non-skilled or semi skilled’ industries such as retail, fast food and hospitality.

SDA Queensland Branch Secretary Chris Gazenbeek said today that “penalty rates are the difference between putting food on the table or not for many of our members.

“A cut to penalty rates will be a cut in take-home pay and would have a devastating impact on thousands of SDA members across Queensland. Retail employees could lose up to $6,000 per year when they struggle now to keep their heads above water

“Not only are penalty rates very often the only reason a member will give up time with their family to work on a weekend, but they’re also often the only thing helping members make ends meet,” Mr Gazenbeek said.

“This report, if adopted, will see a large number of members forced to work three or four jobs or be forced onto the welfare system just like Walmart workers in America. The Productivity Commission is not promoting higher base rates to compensate for any penalty rate changes just a straight out cut to take-home pay.

“The big question is what Tony Abbott does with the Productivity Commission report. Will he be willing to fight an election on a platform of cutting workers’ rights and take-home pay?

“By adopting the recommendation to create a two-tiered penalty rate structure, the Prime Minister would be creating a second-class workforce. He would be telling hard-working SDA members that they are less important than the rest of Australia.

“Cutting take-home pay for retail, fast food and restaurant workers will have a devastating impact on consumer spending and therefore a devastating effect on our economy.

“Today’s interim report is not surprising. The SDA has always felt that the Productivity Commission’s report would once again attack workers’ rights.  These initial recommendations are proof of that.

“Axing penalty rates for hundreds of thousands of Australia’s lowest paid workers will have a devastating impact on families right across the country. If the Prime Minister adopts these recommendations, he’ll be knowingly making life incredibly difficult, if not impossible, for hundreds of thousands of families across the country.

“Penalty rates provide vital compensation for employees working weekends and evenings whilst so many of the community including Productivity Commissioners are relaxing with family and friends.

“To suggest that as a society, we no longer consider Sundays different to any other day is absurd and completely out of touch.

“Business lobby groups continue to say that penalty rates aren’t sustainable. What’s not sustainable is forcing workers to work around the clock without compensation for the unsociable hours.”

Members are encouraged to express their disgust by emailing the relevant federal Workplace Relations Minister, Eric Abetz at Members should say in their own words, how the reduction in penalty rates would affect them.

More to come…..

Further information: Chris Gazenbeek, 07 3833 9500 or