Change in penalty rates needed

Western Suburbs Weekly - - News - By JON BAS­SETT

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.

Colin Bar­nett

Mark McGowan

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