Penalty rates at risk under Abbott

Labor candidate for Bendigo, Lisa Chesters, today expressed alarm at reports the Australian Retailers Association will look to use the Liberal’s proposed changes to workplace relations to extend trading hours without paying penalty rates to employees.

The peak business group has confirmed that unfair individual contracts are at the heart of Tony Abbott’s and the Liberal Party’s workplace relations plan and will put penalty rates at risk for over 10% of Bendigo workers.

"This figure includes 4500 people working in retail as sales assistants and salespersons in the Bendigo region who are now faced with the prospect of a wage cut, if a Tony Abbott government is elected in September", Ms Chesters said. 

"The Liberal Party’s policy document clearly outlines their intention to detach Individual Flexibility Arrangements from Enterprise Agreements and to undermine the Better off Overall Test by allowing ‘non-monetary benefits’."

"Having devoted the last eight years of my working life to representing and standing up for workers and their families, making sure their wages are fair and their rights are protected - including here in Bendigo and Central Victoria, I know how dodgy Individual Flexibility Arrangements will be without the Better off Overall Test attached”, Ms Chesters said.

“Big employers like Spotless have tried and failed to cut penalty rates for cleaners working long and unsocial hours by misusing Individual Flexibility Arrangements. What saved these workers’ conditions was the Labor Government’s Better off Overall Test.”

“Penalty rates are extremely important for many workers in the Bendigo Electorate. Many workers in low paid industries rely on penalty rates to make ends meet.”

“The Federal Labor Government firmly believes that Australian workers deserve penalty rates for working extended or unsocial hours. While many of us are able to enjoy our weekends, others continue to work to provide the services we all rely on”, Ms Chesters said.

“I believe that this latest attack on penalty rates is a sign of things to come from the conservative side of politics. That's why Bendigo needs a strong voice in Canberra. I will continue to be a strong representation and advocate for these workers as a Member of Parliament."