Local economy will suffer if penalty rates go: union

THE Gladstone region's economy will suffer if changes are made to minimum wages and penalty rates, a union member says.

Thousands of people across the country rallied as part of the National Day of Action yesterday against the Federal Government's Productivity Commission inquiry into possibly abolishing the minimum wage and cutting weekend penalty rates.

Queensland organiser for the Maritime Union of Australia, Jason Miners, said he was happy with the turn-out of more than 40 people in Gladstone, after they decided late to join the rally.

"We only decided to join the rest of the major cities after the release of the productivity commission last week," he said.

"We couldn't stand back and watch a further attack of workers' rights and conditions.

"We understand some changes are needed to bring the budget back to surplus, but they cannot come from those who can't forgo anymore."

Queensland Council of Unions president John Battams said if these changes were made, the Gladstone region would suffer severely.

In Queensland about 700,000 people are paid penalty rates.

"If you knock off penalty rates, you're pulling a huge amount of money out of the local economy," he said.

"So every regional town in Queensland will suffer if they cut people's wages."

Federal Member for Flynn Ken O'Dowd said the unions were just keeping 'their boys o

"John Howard got kicked out because of Work Choices and we won't be bringing them back in," he said.

"There is a case out there for reform. It will be open for discussion, but nothing will happen until we go to another election."

Rallies in Queensland also celebrated the end of the Newman LNP government.

Mr Battams said regional areas were "pivotal" in helping Labor win the election.

"We won 11 seats outside the south-east corner and nobody expected that to happen," he said.

This included the seats of Keppel, Maryborough, Bundaberg and Mirani

- APN NEWSDESK



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