Pay deals cost penalties
Union- negotiated agreements dudded workers
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.