Greens propose to legislate penalty rates: 2016 election campaign

17 May, 2016 by

The Greens have called on Labor to back their plans to legislate penalty rates ahead of the Fair Work Commission’s decision on whether to cut Sunday rates for hospitality and retail workers.

Greens Industrial Relations spokesperson Adam Bandt MP joined the Greens candidate for Grayndler Jim Casey to make the announcement on Monday 16 May.

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“Weekend rates are an integral part of people’s rights at work, with thousands of Australians depending on weekend rates to make ends meet,” Bandt said. “The Greens are the only party that will protect weekend rates of pay.

“Should the Fair Work Commission choose to cut penalty rates this June, Bill Shorten has shamefully said that Labor will accept its decision.

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“We’re not proposing to legislate every hourly rate of pay in every industry. Our bill would set a strong legal minimum and then let the Commission do its work independently but on the proviso that pay rates wouldn’t go backwards.

“They [Labor] talk tough on protecting weekend rates, but will not do anything to protect weekend rates should they be cut,” Bandt said.

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Speaking on 3AW, Labor Shadow Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Brendan O’Connor said “We have made clear that if a Shorten Labor government is elected we will intervene [in the Commission], and I believe the weight of the Commonwealth intervening in such a matter would lead to a very good outcome for workers.

“Labor is the part of penalty rates. Let’s wait for the umpire to make its decision. Labor believes in the independence of the umpire. Frankly if you want to legislate the way the Greens are proposing then you are opening the door for the Liberals to have the mechanism to abolish penalty rates.

“We are the party that supports penalty rates,” O’Connor said.

At a campaign doorstop in Geelong, Labor leader Bill Shorten said “I caution the Greens that they need to be careful…they're playing with fire by proposing that a government should be able to legislate on specific penalty rate outcomes, they are loading the gun for a future conservative government to pull the trigger, because what the government has the power to put in, a future government has the power to dismantle.”