Chamber starts campaign to have penalty rates abolished

Customers enjoy brunch at the Gladstone Coffee Club.
Customers enjoy brunch at the Gladstone Coffee Club. Tom Huntley

THE Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland has announced it will push for changes to penalty rates in the lead-up to the federal election. 

The organisation wants weekend penalty rates abolished and rates only enacted when an employee works more than a 10-hour day or a 38-hour work week.

Gladstone Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Rick Hansen said the debate needed to be looked at holistically.

"I'm a person for facts and figures," he said

"I think there has to be forum where we can identify that the Australian economy is being battered and beaten around by this."

Mr Hansen is used to penalty rates, having run his local convenience store for 15 years.

"I think there should be debate about modernising it, and having a look at where we stand and how it's affecting our economy still can be had, but I'm not against penalty rates for workers," he said.

The Gladstone chamber plans to do its own research on the subject.

"We're about to do that, as part of our buy local campaign, and then we'll have some actually correct figures that we can use, and then make an opinion on it as far as Gladstone," he said.

Penalty rates help ease pain of working weekends, holidays: manager

FOR hospitality workers, penalty rates are one of the soothing factors for working weekends and public holidays that everyone else has off.

Gladstone's Coffee Club's head duty manager Mel Milliner said abolishing penalty rates on weekends and public holidays would cause more harm than good.

"I don't think my staff would be very happy at all and it's hard enough to get them to work on the weekend, because no-one really wants to work on the weekend," she said.

"At least with the penalty rates it gives them some sort to of initiative to actually work."

The workers at the café are generally casual, so no overtime is received, but they do get penalties for public holidays.

"No-one is really going to work for the same amount of money on a public holiday because everyone, I'm pretty sure, would want to have it off," Ms Milliner said.

She believes penalty rates are a core part of the service industry.

"To keep hospitality open on the weekend, otherwise, who is going to want to work?

"It would be up to the owner, himself or herself, to make that decision whether they are going to keep doing it, or just not have any staff," she said.

"Or hire people that are happy to not have it, but then have less of a service."

Reader poll

Should penalty rates for hospitality workers be scrapped?

This poll ended on 17 February 2013.

Yes - 5%

No - 94%

Not sure - 0%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

Topics:  coffee club, gladstone, penalty rates, retail



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