The Australian Nursing Federation said the opposition’s talk of cutting penalty rates would - in practice - hurt nurses working weekends and late night shifts.
ANF Federal Secretary Ged Kearney said she was shocked that the opposition still hadn’t learnt from previous mistakes and instead was expressing a preference to abolish some penalty rates.
“The coalition appear to be holding a candle for Work Choices and would, if they had the opportunity, once again strip workers of their rights,” she said.
“If penalty rates were cut you would have nurses who work tough weekend shifts in emergency departments or intensive care losing hundreds of dollars from their pay.”
“Nurses could lose up to nearly $36 a shift on weekdays and up to $180 per shift on weekends.
“The fact the opposition are publicly discussing cutting penalty rates should put fear into the heart of all workers. Such unfair policy shows the opposition remains out of touch with workers.”
Penalty rates are there for a reason. They are paid to workers who work unsociable and arduous shifts with minimum staffing levels. Cutting penalty rates would tell those workers that their time is not valuable.”
Ms Kearney also commented on the award modernization process and fears employers would cut the wages of aged care workers in NSW and Queensland.
“The ANF will be using every avenue under the Fair Work Act to prosecute employers that cut nurse wages. We are monitoring the situation very closely to ensure no nurse is worse off,” she said.