Change in penalty rates needed
COTTESLOE MLA Colin Barnett has explained why workers’ penalty rates need changing in order to create new jobs in tourism and other sectors.
The Premier said he had always favoured slightly higher weekday pay rates and a 50 per cent loading on weekends.
He said this would remove the “unfair” situation of a shop assistant working weekdays on “fairly” low rates compared to the double-time or more that a student got on weekends.
In March, he will have to bid for a third term with some parts of WA struggling for reliable work at the end of another mining investment cycle.
“What we've got here is a situation where we need to create more jobs, and in the holiday and tourism industry there is huge scope for growth, but not when people are being paid double and double time-and-a-half,” he said.
Earlier this year, an investigation found McDonald’s staff nationwide lost penalties and were being underpaid following 2013 deals with the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association, and there were allegations of similar deals with Coles and Woolworths.
Mr Barnett said small businesses and their workers were caught by the large chains’ and unions’ deals that negotiated higher hourly rates in the week and lower penalty rates over weekends.
However, part-time and casual employment and having several small jobs is now important for voters with boom-era mortgages, or those studying for a new post-mining career.
October Australian Bureau of Statistics figures indicated that about 9500 fulltime jobs lost nationally were replaced with 8400 part-time positions, and recently international business information group Citi Research, working for retail investors, reported that cutting penalties raised profits and did not increase employment.
Mr Barnett said some West Australians relied on penalty rates but the current system meant fewer jobs.
Reform, such as just having a 50 per cent loading for weekend or night work, needed discussing.
Opposition Leader Mark McGowan said taking money off “everyday” West Australians was not the answer.
Mr McGowan said calls to debate penalties was a distraction from the economy and WA Labor’s Our Plan for Jobs would support small business and allow the creation of new jobs.