After more than 15 months’ worth of emotive-charged campaigns and attempts by unions and the ALP to block the reduction in Sunday penalty rates, the full changes will finally come into effect this coming Sunday.
Or will they?
The ALP’s latest move in the ongoing battle against retail business owners is to introduce legislation in Canberra today to try and circumvent the implementation of the Fair Work Commission’s decision.
The move comes on the back of yet another protest, led by the ACTU at Old Parliament House last week, with the sole purpose of building on its previous work of convincing the people of Australia that the nation’s retail employers are nothing more than greedy, selfish fat cats out to exploit their workers, and dine out on their allegedly ridiculously high profits.
I often hear comments from angry people about how penalty rates have been thrown out. Which is remarkable considering they haven’t, and there was never any proposal for them to be abolished.
Or that they are furious with the Turnbull Government for stealing people’s penalty rates. Crazy considering it had nothing to do with the Turnbull Government firstly, and that no one’s stolen anyone’s penalty rates.
Or I hear people say that Saturday rates have been slashed too which defeats the purpose of working weekend shifts. Again, that was never even a proposal, let alone part of the decision! Saturday rates are the same as they’ve always been.
As retail business owners know so well, the independent umpire’s decision modestly reduced Sunday penalty rates from double time down to either time and three quarters, or time and a half across five out of Australia’s 122 Awards.
It simply brought Sunday’s rates in line with Saturday’s.
But given the very loud voices asserting that this decision has ripped penalty rates out from under everyone to let the rich exploit the poor, coupled with the sheer volume of misleading information being thrown about, it’s little wonder people don’t understand what the changes actually are, and why they’ve come about.
As part of last week’s protest against the reduction to Sunday penalty rates, the ACTU continued with the rhetoric that this ‘rob from the poor to give to the rich’ decision is just another way to bolster the profits of evil big businesses.
It’s a totally flawed argument, particularly given the overwhelming majority of businesses affected by this decision are small businesses.
You are the ones who take massive risks in starting your own businesses, and stay up late doing your BAS, and sacrifice your time with your loved ones to invest into your businesses – the same businesses that create work for hundreds of thousands of Australians.
You are the ones who give so many of our young people their starts in the workforce, and put your own hand in your own pocket to provide jobs for others, and it’s something you should wear as a badge of honour!
The retail environment is a tough gig, and to stay competitive, you need a hand just like everyone else.
You are paying some of the highest wages in the developed world (and that applies to all areas of the supply chain). You also have to contend with some of the highest leasing costs in the developed world. Not to mention higher taxes and compliance costs.
And all in an environment where consumers can get anything they want anytime they want, with the full expectation of rock bottom prices at all times.
But, it’s far easier to run a fear and smear campaign against ‘evil big business’ than it is to attack mums and dads struggling to keep their doors open in this difficult retail environment.
In the midst of all this attack, we want you to know that we have your back.
We fought tooth and nail to bring these changes about. We have advocated on your behalf continuously, to all sides and all levels of government. And we sent in our legal team to fight for your rights when the unions tried, and failed, to have this decision overturned in the Federal Court.
And, we will continue to fight to prevent this next round of attempts to stop you from getting the break you not only deserve, but desperately need.
Dominique Lamb, CEO.