United Voice has asked the Fair Work Commission to immediately conclude the penalty rates matter so it can appeal the decision in the Federal Court.
In February the Fair Work Commission handed down its ruling that reduced Sunday and public holiday penalty rates for full-time and part-time workers in the hospitality industry.
While the public holiday penalty cuts are set to come into effect on 1 July 2017, the Commission is yet to decide when the Sunday rate cuts should come into effect. However, it has indicated it should be within a year.
The current Sunday pay rates for full-time and part-time hospitality workers is 175 per cent of their standard wage. This will be cut to 150 per cent.
Jo-anne Schofield, national secretary of United Voice, said the decision “must be challenged”.
“We are taking these steps to defend and improve the living standards of working people. We are standing up for hospitality workers who are unfairly impacted by this decision. And in doing so, we are standing up for all workers in this country,”
“The Commission itself acknowledges that this decision will have a negative impact on some of the lowest paid workers in this country.
“Put simply, we cannot turn away and accept a decision that impacts so dramatically on our members and, potentially, on all workers. The decision must be challenged. This is a cut hospitality workers can’t afford and don’t deserve”.
United Voice will argue that the Commission has failed in its responsibility to properly consider the living standards and the impact that this decision will have on people who are already some of the lowest paid workers in the country. It will also relate to the Commission’s jurisdiction.
The union will seek a stay of the Commission’s decision until the Federal Court can hear the case.
Penalty rate ruling to have “detrimental effect”: SEQPHA
The president of the South East Queensland Professional Housekeepers Association (SEQPHA) Libby Sharp told INCLEAN the recent penalty rate rise ruling will have a “detrimental effect” on the hospitality industry and housekeepers.
“Having worked in the hospitality industry for 35 years, I cannot see that decreasing penalty rates will deliver more jobs,” Sharp said.
“This change is going to have a major negative impact. Sunday is the day most hospitality workers make that extra money to get them through.
“Hospitality is a darn hard job. Workers shouldn’t be punished by having their money taken off them.”
United Voice pushes for minimum wage rise to $20
The hospitality union is also pushing for the minimum wage to rise to $20 for low paid workers.
Schofield said that the wage review is the opportunity to take action on rising inequality.
“A full time wage should be enough to sustain a decent life, this increasingly isn’t the case. Many people are having to work longer and longer hours in two and three jobs, just to make ends meet. The impact of long work hours and ongoing financial stress is fuelling anxiety and uncertainty.
“We need to reverse the trend that has seen minimum wage workers fall behind over the last three decades, with minimum wages failing to keep pace with incomes in the economy more generally. Inequality has risen, and the incidence of low-paid work has increased.”
United Voice maintains the position that the Fair Work Commission Expert Panel should establish a fundamental change to how the minimum wage is set and adopt a target of 60 per cent of median wages for the national minimum wage.
It is also now pursuing an accelerated timeframe for the adoption of the 60 per cent standard to reflect the urgent need for a pay increase.
If the panel rejects the proposal for a target, United Voice proposes as an alternative that the panel set the national minimum wage from 1 July 2017 at $20 per hour, an increase of $2.30 an hour or $87.30 per week.