News

Low paid workers ‘robbed’ of penalty rates

Thursday 23rd February, 2017

The country’s largest union, the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) has condemned a decision by the Fair Work Commission to cut Sunday and public holiday penalty rates across three industries, labeling it as a “cruel attack on the some of the country’s lowest-paid, and very often, female workers.”

Federal Secretary Lee Thomas said the ANMF was now concerned its members in aged care and some other health settings would be at risk of being robbed of their vital penalty rates.

“This is a disgraceful decision which now threatens our whole IR system,” Ms Thomas said.

“The Commission itself acknowledges that ‘many of these employees earned just enough to cover weekly living expenses’ – yet they are the very people being targeted in this cruel attack on some of the country’s lowest-paid workers.

“Frontline nurses and midwives rely on penalty rates for a fifth of their income. They may be safe this time around, but for how long? Can the Government guarantee that nurses and carers working in aged care won’t be next?

“Today its workers in hospitality, retail and fast food, but this has opened the door for attacks on workers in other sectors, including health. Whether you are a barista working on a Sunday, or a nurse working on a Sunday, or a carer working on a Sunday, it’s still working on a Sunday - and all workers should be paid penalty rates for doing so. Most of these workers are women who are already being stripped of their paid parental leave (PPL) entitlements.

“The ANMF will never support the introduction of a two-tiered wage system where some workers are entitled to penalty rates and others are not. We stand in solidarity with other workers in the industries impacted by these cuts.”

Ms Thomas said ANMF surveys showed that 80% of its members would consider abandoning nursing and midwifery if they lost penalty rates.

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.