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Turnbull Government using PC to justify big pay cut for Australian workers



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LISA CHESTERS MP

CHAIR, LABOR’S FAIR WORK TASKFORCE MEMBER FOR BENDIGO

TURNBULL GOVERNMENT USING PC TO JUSTIFY BIG PAY CUT FOR AUSTRALIAN WORKERS

Following yesterday's Productivity Commission (PC) report into Australia’s Workplace Relations Framework, thousands of workers now know what the Government's actual agenda is when it comes to their penalty rates - to cut them.

Despite yesterday's spin by the Government, peak lobby groups and big businesses, the core recommendation is a massive pay cut to some of Australia's lowest paid workers.

The Report recommends cutting the pay of thousands of Australia's lowest paid workers, which is disappointing and demonstrates yet again the Turnbull Abbott Government is still only interested in listening to big business.

Another alarming recommendation by the PC is that awards would no longer be required to provide additional remuneration for overtime, unsocial, irregular or unpredictable hours, or employees working long shifts.

The PC report reflects a very different story for millions of low paid workers relying on penalty rates to survive, suggesting the Liberal Government's terms of reference was set up to ignore their pay cut concerns.

The few workers who had the opportunity to speak at Productivity Commission Hearings have the right to be disappointed that their pay cut fears were ignored in the final report.

Meanwhile, Labor’s Fair Work Taskforce consulted, engaged and listened to Australian workers, employers, industry groups, unions and other key stakeholders.

In the last 6 months, Labor’s Fair Work Taskforce conducted 20 hearings across all states and territories, speaking to over 250 participants. We held hearings across regional Australia, outer metro suburbs and every capital city.

Hospitality and retail workers repeatedly described in detail how challenging it is to survive on the current low wages - before any cut to the Sunday penalty rate. One worker said it “is already hard enough trying to budget in the face of rising costs of food, utilities and insurances without a cut to my take home pay.”

Some workers also described the heartbreaking Catch-22 situation they find themselves in. One worker remarked “if I work Sundays, I have the money to pay for my son's basketball but miss watching him play because games and competition are on Sundays."

Turnbull’s decision to release their PC Report on the Monday before Christmas demonstrates the little understanding; or worse, the lack of care about the difficulties currently faced by low paid workers across Australia.

In January, Labor’s Fair Work Taskforce will release an issues paper generated from the first round of hearings. It will not ignore the voices of working people and the impact the Turnbull-Abbott Government anti-worker agenda will have on their livelihoods.

TUESDAY, 22 DECEMBER 2015

MEDIA CONTACT: LISA CHESTERS 0425 755 929