Penalty rate cut to be challenged in the Federal Court

The Fair Work Commission ‘s controversial penalty rate cuts will face a judicial review in the Federal Court

Penalty rate cut to be challenged in the Federal Court

The United Voice Union has today lodged a legal challenge in the Federal Court to the cuts in weekend and public holiday penalty rates on behalf of hospitality workers.

United Voiceis seeking an urgent hearing to stop the penalty rate cuts in the hospitality and restaurants award, which apply from 1 July and will be phased in over three years.

The FWC previously ruled there would be rate cuts of between 25 and 50% in the retail, pharmacy, fast food and hospitality industries. The industrial umpire agreed with employer submissions that reducing rates could boost employment.

However, Jo-anne Schofield, National Secretary of United Voice said that if left unchallenged, this decision would see hardworking hospitality staff suffer a pay cut “they can’t afford and don’t deserve”.

“In the Commission‘s own words, the cuts will impact on workers who earn just enough to cover expenses and for whom unexpected expenses already produce considerable financial distress,” she said.

“This should put employers on notice - we will not accept their attempts to undermine basic working rights and conditions. Hospitality workers, through their union, have been fighting the attempts by employers to cut their pay for over three years and we’re not about to give up now.”

The union will be arguing the cuts unfairly impact people such as Margarita Murray-Stark, a 58-year old hotel cleaner from Melbourne.

Murray-Stark works 30 hours a week as a housekeeper for a cleaning contractor, under the hospitality award.

She said she is scared of the looming financial impact and is delighted to see the appeal lodged.

“I earn around $30,000 per year. It’s not much and I live week to week,” she said.

“A cut to our penalty rates means I will earn about $2000 less a year.

“For myself and hundreds of thousands of other low-paid workers, our Sunday penalty rates mean the difference between staying afloat, and drowning in bills.

“They mean I can afford to retire, rather than have to keep working into my seventies.”

This week the government backbencher George Christensen crossed the floor and backed a Labor bill to stop penalty rates cuts.

However, the bill was narrowly defeated 72-73 which involved the Labor opposition trying to reverse the cuts to Sunday penalty rates.


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