Australia gives employees another slap in the face

Posted By on April 2, 2017

Australia has moved to cut employees penalty rates for Sundays to match Saturday rates.

Successive Australian governments have ignored the large section of the population who are employed but due to the prevalence of casual, temporary and part-time employment, do not have enough hours of work to earn a liveable wage. In many cases their income is so low they are below the minimum wage and rely of top ups from welfare, to survive.

Because they are employed more than 2 hours a week, they do not appear on the “unemployed” radar or in national statistics for the unemployed. If they work more than 20 hours a week, they do not qualify for unemployment payments either but still take home a wage that is below the minimum liveable wage. They even have a name for this category of the population – “The Underemployed”.

In a country where a vast number of workers are unable to get enough hours to take home a liveable wage, working Sundays was one way many low paid workers could make ends meet. Those on higher full time incomes tend to avoid working weekends, meaning this is just another slap in the face for poor end of town.

Conversely, employers claimed that reducing weekend penalty rates, would increase employment because businesses could afford to employ more staff and the Productivity Commission believed them!

Let’s get real here! Businesses exist to make profit. They have no ethical or moral compunction to limit that profit, in fact the more profit they make the more they are lauded. Reducing staff wages, a major business overhead, is just another way of making more profit.

What business is going to see this as a philanthropic chance to offer more employment?

If this was true, we’d see electronic checkouts being removed from retail stores. Even with the high incidence of shoplifting facilitated by these, the opportunity to create more employment and win good PR in the community, the big retailers are not removing these to create more employment.

I’ll wager, true to form, they’ll take the money and run. We won’t see any increase in employment.

When it comes to employment in Australia, the Productivity Commission is the Fox guarding the hen house and this is just one more example.

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