HIT HARD: Hospitality workers are among those that will be affected by Sunday penalty rate cuts.
HIT HARD: Hospitality workers are among those that will be affected by Sunday penalty rate cuts. John McCutcheon

Sunday penalty rate cuts to hit hard in Flynn

GLADSTONE retail workers could stand to lose up to $77 a week if the Fair Work Commission implements proposed cuts to Sunday penalty rates.

A report released this week by progressive think-tank The McKell Institute estimates more than 5000 retail, hospitality, fast-food and pharmacy workers in the electorate of Flynn would lose out under the changes.

'Unfair Burden: The Impact of Sunday Penalty Rate Reductions on Regional and Rural Australia' makes the case regional and rural Australians would be disproportionately affected by the cuts.

A higher proportion of regional and rural Australians are retail and hospitality workers, and they are also paid less than their urban counterparts, according to the report.

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The report also says the cuts will transfer wealth out of rural electorates, with a majority of chain retail and fast-food outlets owned by companies based overseas or in capital cities.

An annual total of $6,958,267.40 in wages paid to retail and hospitality workers would "leave" Flynn after the cuts, the report says, assuming Sunday workers retained eight-hour shifts.

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry pointed out the McKell Institute report was also assuming no establishments would be opened for additional hours as a result of the pay rate cuts, and no new jobs would be created, in order to reach the figures.

"We need more avenues into employment in regional and rural communities," ACCI director of workplace relations policy Scott Barklamb said.

"Changing Sunday penalty rates is one of the important ways to encourage jobs growth."

The Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association is currently running an ad blitz against the penalty rate cuts in five marginal electorates across the country, including Flynn.

PENALTY FIGHT: An example of the ads that will be running across Flynn over the next month.
PENALTY FIGHT: An example of the ads that will be running across Flynn over the next month. SDA

SDA Queensland secretary Chris Gazenbeek said the penalty rate cuts would affect the most vulnerable members of society.

"Regional Queensland is doing it extremely tough, and this would have a significant impact on take-home pay, not only affecting individuals but whole regional communities," he said.

"A lot of our members and retail workers are female and are already disadvantaged in the workplace with inequality and lower income, and this will have a further impact on their ability to pay school fees, the electricity bill, the basic necessities of life."

Gladstone Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Carl Carter said the cuts would be welcomed by some, but would produce "no real winners" in Gladstone.

"No one likes to see workers lose money out of their pay packet every week, particularly as household budgets get tight," he said.

But he said the cuts, if they proceed, would help some Gladstone businesses' bottom lines.

"On the flip side I deal with a lot of businesses who are really hurting too, whether it's national franchises or small mum and dad businesses.

"Particularly in Gladstone it's more about helping out the bottom line to minimise the damage the downturn is still causing here.

"No one is getting rich by not paying penalty rates."

Mr Carter said it was unlikely the cut in rates would lead to a big boost for local employment.

"There may be a couple of cases, but the vast majority of businesses we speak to it's more that perhaps the owners can now have a weekend off and can afford to put a junior on sometimes," Mr Carter said.

Proposed Sunday penalty rate cuts

Retail permanent: 200% to 150%

Retail casual: 200% to 175%

Hospitality permanent: 175% to 150%

Hospitality casual: No change

Fast-food permanent: 150% to 125%

Fast-food casual: 175% to 150%

Pharmacy permanent: 200% to 150%

Pharmacy casual: 200% to 175%



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