Retail workers can breathe easily about their weekend pay for now, while the federal opposition moves to block a Fair Work decision that would see some Sunday penalty rates slashed by 25 per cent.
Opposition leader Bill Shorten gave notice this morning that he would introduce a new bill, the Fair Work Amendment (Protecting Take Home Pay) Bill 2017, at the next sitting of parliament.
If enacted the new bill will ensure that no employee’s take-home pay is reduced as a result of a variation of a modern award.
Last week workers and employee groups denounced the decision made on Thursday, which will reduce take home pay for retail and hospitality staff who work under the award and are not already covered by an Enterprise Bargaining Agreement.
Fuel retail workers who are employed under the Vehicle Manufacturing, Repair, Services and Retail Award 2010, or who work under an established EBA, will not be affected by the FWC decision.
The leader of the ALP also wrote to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to demand his support for the new bill, saying it would be an “extraordinary hypocrisy” if he didn’t.
Mr Shorten acknowledged that the government had shown support for the Fair Work decision, and would likely oppose the bill.
“This Parliament of Australia can decide if it agrees or disagrees with the decision of the Fair Work Commission – and we don’t,” he said.
“But if this Parliament, because the Government has the numbers, decides to defeat protecting the take home pay of workers conditions. If they decide to do this and defeat our legislation, then what we will do is take this decision to the biggest umpire in Australia: the people of Australia.”
Employment minister Michaelia Cash accused the Opposition of conducting a “scare campaign” over the rates, stating that the Government would not support a bill against the FWC decision.
Mr Shorten’s office declined to comment directly to C&I Week.