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Eight in Ten Canberrans Support Penalty Rates

The overwhelming majority of Canberrans, across all age groups and political affiliation, support penalty rates, according to a new poll conducted by ReachTel for UnionsACT.

The poll of 1,183 people across the ACT was conducted on the 12th of October, and found that 79.7% of Canberrans support penalty rates. Opposition was just 12.7% and 7.6% were undecided.

Do you think people who are required to work outside of normal hours – like night shifts, weekends or public holidays – should receive a higher hourly rate of pay?

Yes: 79.7%

No: 12.7%

Undecided: 7.6%

This enormous support comes despite years of lobbying and misleading public advocacy by the business lobby and the Liberal Party.

Polling consistently shows that around 80% of Australians consistently support penalty rates. This poll confirms that in the ACT, eight in ten people support penalty rates.

UnionsACT launched a pro-penalty rates blitz on the 11th of October to coincide with Anti-Poverty Week. A protest in support of penalty rates is planned today at 12pm at the Queanbeyan office of Liberal MP Dr Peter Hendy.

Key facts:

  • Total wages share in food and accommodation was 78 per cent in 2013-14, down from a peak of 87 per cent in 1997-98. In retail, the wages share has fallen from a peak of 79 per cent in 1997-98 to just 73 per cent in 2013-14.
  • The level 4 rate of pay in the General Retail, Restaurants and Hospitality Awards is $746.20. Full Time Adult Average Weekly Total Earnings as at 14 November was $1,539.40 (ABS 6302).
  • A Fair Work Commission decision on the Restaurant Industry Award in May 2014 found that it did not consider Sunday penalty rates to “have economy-wide effects” as the industry has grown strongly since the Award commenced.
  • A waiter working for a local restaurant would see their incomes slashed by 30% from $41,000 down to $29,000 if penalty rates were slashed.
  • In 1997, 69.7% of us had jobs from Monday to Friday. In 2012 that figure was 68.9%.
  • Surveys in 2013 and 2014 by the ACCI and Small Business Council have repeatedly shown that penalty rates and wages rate 10th out of 10 top issues of concern, with rental costs and access to finance topping the list.

The following statements can be attributed to Alex White, secretary of UnionsACT:

“Australians have been subjected to a false and misleading campaign by the business lobby and the Liberal party about penalty rates.

“Despite irrefutable evidence to the contrary, business lobbyists like Kate Carnell continue to repeat falsehoods about penalty rates to try to make the case for cuts to wages.

“The truth is that penalty rates are an important part of Australian society, and eight in ten Canberrans support penalty rates.

“When business lobbyists call for cuts to penalty rates, they are asking people who are paid the least in our community to give up the most.

“Cutting penalty rates have nothing to do creating jobs or increasing productivity – it is simply about cutting the take-home pay of everyday working people.”

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