Pay deals cost penal­ties

Union- ne­go­ti­ated agree­ments dud­ded work­ers

Townsville Bulletin - - NATION - SHARRI MARKSON

A RAFT of union agree­ments un­earthed by the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment have robbed work­ers at some of Aus­tralia’s largest com­pa­nies of up to $ 1800 a year in penalty rates.

La­bor’s cam­paign op­pos­ing Sun­day penalty rate cuts has also been left open to ac­cu­sa­tions of hypocrisy over a deal struck with the Aus­tralian Work­ers Union while Bill Shorten was na­tional leader.

Em­ploy­ment Min­is­ter Michaelia Cash yes­ter­day ac­cused Mr Shorten of “play­ing pol­i­tics” over his prom­ise to re­store Sun­day penalty rates.

“Do you mean for ev­ery­one you screwed in the deals you and other unions have done?” she said.

“The La­bor Party is happy for penalty rates to be re­duced so long as it is their union masters who are ne­go­ti­at­ing the deals.”

La­bor in­sists work­ers are bet­ter off over­all un­der col­lec­tive agree­ments, with work­ers com­pen­sated for the loss of penalty rates by higher Mon­day to Fri­day rates.

But a new anal­y­sis of deals done with Tar­get, McDon­ald’s, and KFC, among oth­ers, fail to com­pen­sate for Sun­day penalty rate cuts with higher Mon­day to Fri­day hourly rates.

While Mr Shorten was na­tional sec­re­tary at the Aus­tralian Work­ers Union, its Queens­land branch struck a deal with Tar­get that paid work­ers $ 47.91 a week less – $ 2491 a year – than the com­pa­ra­ble Re­tail In­dus­try Award.

The pay deal, which cov­ered North Queens­land work­ers, ex­pired in 2008, and meant work­ers on the union deal were paid $ 1.98 more per day Mon­day to Fri­day, but $ 55.83 less per day on Sun­day.

Mr Shorten is on leave but his of­fice said there was no record of him sight­ing the deals.

Sun­day penalty rates were re­duced by 5 per cent last week­end af­ter a de­ter­mi­na­tion by the Fair Work Com­mis­sion.

Mr Shorten has pledged to over­turn the in­de­pen­dent um­pire’s rul­ing should he win of­fice at the next elec­tion.

Tar­get said the anal­y­sis looked only at base wage rates and Sun­day penal­ties and did not en­com­pass other al­lowances and ben­e­fits em­ploy­ees re- ceived un­der the agree­ment. Un­der the deal, Tar­get paid staff su­per­an­nu­a­tion into the union’s REST in­dus­try fund.

The anal­y­sis of McDon­ald’s pay rates Aus­tralia- wide shows work­ers were worse off un­der the deal struck by the Shop Distribu­tive and Al­lied Em­ploy­ees Association in 2013 com­pared to the Fast Food In­dus­try Award, the le­gal safety net.

Em­ploy­ees are paid $ 12.47 more a day dur­ing the week, but $ 61.41 less per Sun­day if they are on the agree­ment ne­go­ti­ated by the union.

Ms Cash said the anal­y­sis was the piece of the puz­zle that showed work­ers were not bet­ter off un­der union deals.

La­bor Em­ploy­ment spokesman Bren­dan O’Con­nor told ABC Ra­dio last week: “I don’t think it’s a con­tra­dic­tion for unions to say we don’t want cuts to penalty rates in awards, and to ne­go­ti­ate on agree­ments which com­pen­sate peo­ple for changes to penalty rates.”

La­bor’s As­sis­tant Work­place Re­la­tions spokes­woman Lisa Ch­esters said work­ers could be bet­ter off over­all un­der Fair Work Com­mis­sion bench­marks de­spite lower Sun­day rates.

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