Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has blasted the Fair Work Commission's decision to cut Sunday penalty rates, saying Australian workers have been "kicked in the guts".
Meanwhile, local Labor figure Tim Kurylowicz said the changes would be devastating for Wagga workers who rely on penalty rates to make ends meet.
In a laborious 551-page decision, the Fair Work Commission has grudgingly acknowledged that times have changed since "penalty rates" were introduced in the 1940s for work done outside Monday to Friday daytime hours. One of my good friends used to run a shop and she tells me she only ever wanted extra staff when penalty rates applied, because that's when customers wanted to shop.
"People whose pay is going to be cut ... will simply have to work more hours to make up that take-home pay".
Equalising Saturday and Sunday doesn't have to mean cutting to the lowest common denominator of current Saturday rates. Meanwhile, casuals covered by the Retail Award will see their "double time" pay rate drop to 175%.
No change to Sunday penalty rates for level two and three employees in that award.
Fast-food employees' Sunday rates will go from 150 per cent to 125 per cent for full-time and part-time staff, and casuals will go from 200 per cent to 175 per cent.
Across the country, businesses are staffed by casual or part-time workers in retail, fast food, admin.
However, he stopped short at proposing legislation that would guarantee no change to penalty rates.
While no doubt well-intentioned, the union movement's claim that Fair Work's decision will take a wrecking ball to the living standards of thousands of beleaguered working families is wrongheaded.
THE Fair Work Commission ruling on Sunday penalty rates, handed down on Thursday, should only be part of this story.
Addressing low-income earning individuals, the commission said "transitional arrangements" were necessary to mitigate any hardships experienced but did not specify what these might be.
The commission reviewed Saturday rates but decided against any reductions.
"With 725,000 people out of work, including 259,000 young people, we need to find it easier to help employers take on new staff, including through bringing penalty rates into line with community expectations".
At a media conference on Wednesday, Shorten to do "everything in our power, in the parliament and in the courts, to remedy this bad decision because Australian workers shouldn't be suffering wages cuts".
"The conclusions we have reached are largely based on the particular circumstances related to these awards", Ross said of the decision.
These submissions were from some of the largest interest groups in our society, such as the The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), the Australian Industry Group (AIG), Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), National Retail Association (NRA), as well as submissions from individuals across Australia.
"There was just a collective "get f***ed" in our lunch room at Target", a worker wrote after hearing the impact on retail employees.
The Fair Work Commission has spent nearly two years weighing evidence from more than 140 witnesses and 6000 written submissions.
On Twitter, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said people relied on penalty rates.
A cut in penalty rates isn't anything to do with equalising Saturday and Sunday and whether or not we go to church on a Sunday.
"Sunday work has a higher level of disutility, but much less than in times past".
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