As you would be aware, in February 2017, the Fair Work Commission (FWC) ruled to cut Sunday and public holiday penalty rates for workers covered by the Retail, Fast Food, Hospitality and Pharmacy Awards.
The SDA and United Voice appealed the Fair Work Commission’s decision to reduce penalty rates through a judicial review in the Federal Court.
Federal Court upholds penalty rates cuts
We put up a strong fight to reverse the Sunday and public holiday penalty rate cuts, but unfortunately, the Federal Court did not rule in our favour.
While the Federal Court acknowledged that low-paid workers would be adversely affected by this decision, and that a gradual implementation would not make any difference to this, ultimately they found no legal error which would have overturned the FWC’s decision.
Winning and Losing
The SDA won these penalty rates in the Retail Award in 2009 and we have defended them ever since — taking it all the way to Federal Court.
The decision to cut penalty rates was harsh and unfair — it hurt retail, fast food, hospitality and pharmacy workers who can’t afford a pay cut.
We are bitterly disappointed with the outcome of the appeal, but the SDA will continue to fight to protect the take-home pay of retail, fast food and pharmacy workers.
SDA National Secretary Gerard Dwyer said that while the Federal Court’s decision was devastating for workers and their families, it did not undermine the Union’s resolve to continue the fight to restore the take-home pay of some of the lowest-paid workers in Australia.
“We are disappointed that the Federal Court has not sided with the SDA and United Voice in our bid to overturn the Fair Work Commission decision to cut the pay of some of the country’s lowest-paid workers.
“But the battle does not end here.
“More than 700,000 hardworking Australians who rely on their penalty rates to make ends meet have had their pay cut.
“Our workplace laws are broken. It’s time to change the rules to restore penalty rates and stop cuts to take-home pay.”
Two things we need to do
While our appeal was unsuccessful, our work continues.
There are two things we need to do to restore the take-home pay of workers covered by the Retail, Fast Food and Pharmacy Awards.
Change the Government to Change the Rules:
Malcolm Turnbull could have stopped the cuts to penalty rates — but he chose not to. He and his Government stood by and allowed the pay of 700,000 workers to be slashed.
Tell the Government you won’t be voting for them at protectpenaltyrates.org.au.
Raise retail, fast food and pharmacy wages:
The SDA will now be pushing even harder to increase the base rates of pay in the Retail, Fast Food and Pharmacy Awards in the Annual Wage Review next year.
At a time of record low wage growth and growing inequality, we know workers can’t afford to have their pay cut as the cost of living continues to rise.
Cuts to awards affect all of us
Most SDA members are covered by SDA-negotiated Agreements, which means the cuts to penalty rates in Awards has not directly affected their take-home pay — yet!
However, it does mean the floor from which we negotiate wages in new Agreements is lowered – which is one reason why it’s so important to continue the fight to protect take-home pay for workers covered by Awards.
The Fair Work Commission’s decision to cut Sunday penalty rates in the Retail, Fast Food, Pharmacy and Hospitality Awards will continue to be phased in on 1 July each year until 2020.
But the SDA isn’t giving up — until penalty rates are restored, the fight isn’t over.