Unions will appeal against a decision by Fair Work Australia yesterday that forfeits overtime penalty rates for people working more than 38 hours a week.
Australian Workers' Union national secretary Paul Howes said the decision, which applies to fruit and vegetable pickers in Queensland, was disappointing and threatened to undermine a basic employee entitlement.
It means that workers who volunteered to work more than 38 hours a week would not be entitled to any overtime penalty rates.
Howes said: "Workers spent many years campaigning for the 38 hour week, which is now entrenched as a core safety net standard."
"Any moves to have employees work more than 38 hours immediately puts a worker at a disadvantage, and they should be adequately compensated through overtime penalty rates.”
ACTU secretary Jeff Lawrence claimed the decision could have wider ramifications for other workplace agreements.
He said unions were awaiting the result of a Full Bench appeal over the validity of clauses that removed penalty rates for overtime.
"The Full Bench appeal will determine the proper approach to be taken to arrangements that deprive employees of overtime pay."