The country’s largest union, the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) has welcomed the Opposition’s pledge to reverse crippling cuts to Sunday penalty rates for hundreds of thousands of workers.
From this weekend, workers in the hospitality, retail and fast-food sectors, will lose their penalty rates after a ruling by the Fair Work Commission (FWC) earlier this year. Opposition leader Bill Shorten last night committed to reversing the decision if the ALP is elected at the next federal election.
Acting Federal Secretary Annie Butler said the ANMF was encouraged by the Opposition’s pledge, as nurses, midwives and assistants in nursing (AIN) were still at risk if cuts to Sunday penalty rates were applied across other industries, including health and aged care.
She pointed to a report by the Australia Institute which shows that the health sector is the second highest employer of weekend workers behind retail and hospitality, with a warning that if penalty rate cuts are extended to other sectors “the economic impact on Australian workers will be severe”.
“Since the FWC made the decision to cut Sunday penalty rates for hospitality, retail and fast food workers, we’ve been concerned that it was just the tip of the iceberg and that some of our members would be next, particularly those working in aged care,” Ms Butler said.
“Any move to expand cuts to penalty rates for health and aged care would be economically devastating, with analysis conducted by the ANMF showing that nurses, midwives and AIN’s now rely on penalty rates for 20% of their income.
“If their Sunday penalty rates are reduced to Saturday rates, it would result in a pay-cut of over $1900 a year.
“Almost 90 % of ANMF members have made it clear they will walk away from nursing and midwifery if they were to lose their penalty rates.
“Australia’s political leaders must realise this is a risk they cannot afford to take, which is why the ANMF welcomes any commitment to not only reverse the decision to restore penalty rates but to protect them under law.”
The ANMF, with over 259,000 members, is the industrial and professional voice for nurses, midwives and assistants in nursing in Australia.
ANMF media inquiries: 0411 254 390.