Sunday penalty rates within the hospitality sector could be reduced under the Turnbull government.

In an interview with Sky political editor, David Speers on Wednesday, prime minister Malcolm Turnbull said that a reduction in Sunday penalty rates – which can be as high as $40 per hour – would be ‘considered’ under his leadership.

“All of these matters are under consideration but it is very important that we proceed in an orderly way,” said Turnbull.

However yesterday, over 150 workers and union representatives protested on the streets of Melbourne’s CBD in response to a draft recommendation from the Productivity Commission to lower Sunday penalty rates to the same level as Saturday rates.

One protester, a 20 year old Melbourne hospitality worker told The Age that he relied on weekend penalty rates to pay for food and rent, adding that he already works long hours for a low wage.

“The fact that they think this is okay is disgusting and I think we should fight that, that’s why I’m going to be out here again and again until we win this,” he said.

Australian Council of Trade Unions secretary, Dave Oliver said that the cutting of penalty rates suggests that a hospitality worker’s weekend is not as valuable as anyone else’s in the community.

“If we have a government in place that wants to back employers and take away penalty rates, we’ll take you on, we’ll fight you out there and we will win.”

Earlier this year, restaurateur Luke Mangan raised his concerns for the future of the Australian restaurant industry, citing penalty rates and a shortage of local talent as key inhibitors to the health of the sector.

Mangan said that Australia’s high penalty rates represent a barrier to the long-term success of the industry, adding that his Sydney restaurant Glass, together with many other restaurants around the nation, closes on public holidays due to the additional wage costs.


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