The United Voice and the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association (SDA) had challenged the Fair Work Commission
’s decision to cut penalty rate cuts in awards covering the hospitality and retail sector.
However, the Federal Court found the FWC met its legal obligations when it handed down its decision to cut penalty rates for full-time and part-time workers.
While the Federal Court acknowledged that low paid workers would be adversely impacted by this decision, there was no legal error that was identified to overturn the FWC decision.
Federal Labor leader Bill Shorten
tweeted that the decision was “disappointing”.
“Disappointing decision in the Federal Court. It's clear the best way to protect penalty rates is to vote Labor,” he said.
The SDA National Secretary Gerard Dwyer added that the decision did not undermine the union’s resolve to continue the fight to restore the take home pay of some of the lowest paid workers in Australia.
“We are disappointed that the Federal Court has not sided with the SDA and United Voice in our bid to overturn the Fair Work Commission
decision to cut the pay of some of the country’s lowest paid workers,” said Dwyer.
Moreover, the ACTU Secretary Sally McManus said the onus is on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to reverse these cuts and protect working people’s pay.
“Australia needs a pay rise. Working people’s wages are flatlining and their work is becoming more insecure. The government has a responsibility to act,” said McManus.
“And it gets worse. These pay cuts will continue over the next four years, so thousands of families will continue to find it more difficult to just get by."
Meanwhile, the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell welcomed the Federal Court’s judgment.
“Small business operators will be relieved at this decision, which levels the playing field in competition against big business,” said Carnell.
“Big business and unions have made deals in the past through enterprise agreements which traded penalty rates for union membership and higher base rates.
“People’s lifestyles and expectations have changed over the past 20 years. Fewer people go to church and many people want to work and shop on Sundays and public holidays.
“It’s a shame that unions are running a scare campaign against the penalty rates decision.”
The cuts to penalty rates for Sunday and public holidays will stand after the Federal Court dismissed an appeal.