If you are one of the hundreds of thousands of workers returning to work  from holidays today, here’s a couple of questions.

What price do you put on your weekend and holidays?

What price do you put on your kids future?

There are some within our community that put a very small price-tag on your time and your family. These people not only put such a low value on these things that are so important to us all they are intent on devaluing it even further.

The people I’m referring to are those that are pushing the Abbott government to scrap penalty rates.

For some struggling families penalty rates provide a means of keeping a roof over their families head and putting food on the table each day. With the cost of living skyrocketing, many parents, particularly single parents with the burden of the ridiculous cost of childcare and single-income parents are finding themselves forced into the position of having to work overtime just to make ends meet.

Under an Abbott government that was supposed to create a million new jobs we are instead facing record unemployment rates that we haven’t come close to since the last Coalition government when Abbott was Employment Minister, a crisis that seems to be worsening. However underemployment is also a huge issue, people forced into casual positions by employers trying to maximise profits by cutting down costs like sick leave, holiday leave, and long service leave. The great employment train the country had been riding of record low unemployment levels left the rails as Labor left The Lodge.

Those who are seeking to scrap penalty rates want us to think that doing so would solve the unemployment crisis we are in.

The simple fact is that between the two Coalition governments with the massive unemployment levels there was no change to penalty rates at all. Despite the penalty rates remaining intact a Labor government managed to secure high rates of employment even through a Global Financial Crisis. They did this through a hung parliament by a complicated scheme that Tony Abbott can only dream of, it is a scheme known as “Effective Government”.

At least I have a job

At least I have a job

Another thing that will undoubtedly skyrocket if the Coalition have their way is university fees.

For those students that don’t have daddies trust fund to rely on tertiary education costs not covered by Austudy or Youth Allowance are usually paid for using casual employment be it in a factory, a hotel, a restaurant, or a supermarket. Casual employment is often a vital means of getting by whilst studying for a degree.

Any changes to the penalty rates will have an immediate impact on the ability of tens of thousands of students relying on them to have time to dedicate to studying, as eating and paying rent will become understandable priorities rather than study.

So who does want changes to the penalty rates then?

Unsurprisingly according to a recent Fairfax report leading the charge are some of the Liberal Party’s biggest supporters.

The Abbott government has launched a review of current industrial relations policy via the Productivity Commission, despite WorkChoices being “dead, buried and cremated”.

The Fair Work Commission is currently reviewing employer submissions regarding penalty rates and needless to say the submission aren’t promoting increases.

Brickworks managing director Lindsay Partridge was apparently keen to let FWC how tough it is having to pay penalty rates and continue to compete with overseas companies in the masonry industry. Maybe those companies he competes with don’t donate hundreds of thousands of dollars to political party’s though. Rather than paying workers a decent wage Partridge seems more intent on sending rivers of gravy and cash through to Liberal Party coffers.

Abbott showed his support by doing a presser at the Brickworks factory, and emails showed Peta Credlin seeking to have him plugged on the floor of parliament. Manchurian Candidate anyone?

Abbott and Partridge ham it up for the press at the Brickworks factory Image - News Ltd

Abbott and Partridge try and look natural for the press at the Brickworks factory
Image – News Ltd

Those familiar with the ICAC hearings in NSW may recognise Partridge and Brickworks from the allegations of illegal political donations from the company to the NSW Liberals being funnelled and laundered through the Liberal Party national office.

Another company name familiar to those following ICAC is the Hotels Association.

The Australian Hotels Association has also made a submission to FWC on penalty rates. The Hotels Association acts on behalf of hotels around the country, who clearly have to pay penalty rates to service staff.

A massive owner of these hotels is Woolworths who like to sponsor political events, and donate items for auction as they did at the infamous function where Alan Jones made a disgraceful reference to Julia Gillard’s father. Woolworths are one of the largest owners of poker machines in Australia, an industry that relies on problem gambling and the disposable income that penalty rates provide.


Coincidentally the Former NSW Chief Of The Australian Hotels Association was none other than Paul Nicolaou who also headed the Millennium Forum which was the Liberal Party’s fund raising arm.

Nicolaou was dragged in and out of ICAC repeatedly as a key figure in the alleged laundering of illegal donations to the NSW Liberal Party that saw ten Liberal MP’s resign from the Party and was one of he reasons that finally saw a sitting Liberal Premier, Barry O’Farrell, fall on his sword and stand down after one too many ICAC revelations.

Another employer named as making a submission against the struggling workers penalty rates is Clubs Australia.

Things must be tough for the Clubs that found enough spare cash, approximately $20 Million, to fund a lengthy campaign against changes to the laws regarding poker machines. A campaign that was run against the Labor Party and its MP’s in a campaign that saw sitting MP’s attacked in personal campaigns in pubs and clubs in their own electorate.

I don’t suppose the Liberal’s owe these guys any favors?

Care of Clubs Australia

Care of Clubs Australia

Are we starting to see a pattern emerging yet?

Any attempt to change penalty rates to punish the worker and add millions to the coffers of big business must be fought at all costs.

When Employment Minister Eric Abetz stands in front of a press conference with Abbott and maybe Sloppy Joe to explain what Fair Work Commission and the Productivity Commission have determined bear this in mind. The response will not be about lifting employment levels, helping business, or removing shackles from the economy or any of the other spin they try to convince us with.

This will be about paying back the friends that funded their campaign.

Democracy for sale…



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21 thoughts on “Working For The Weekend – Penalty rates are in the firing line and here’s why

  1. Personally I think we should stop calling them “penalty rates” – what was wrong with “overtime”? Penalty rates implies that someone is being penalised, when in fact what we have here is a system that rewards or compensates workers for going above and beyond what is normally required in order to get the job done and fulfil the commitments of their employers. It is a necessary remuneration for a very noble act on the part of the worker. I can remember a time when it was a dignified and noble thing to be a worker and to do a day’s work. It’s about time we started valuing working people who, let’s be honest, are the ones who keep the country and the economy ticking over.

  2. So Tony. I work in the disability sector and care for the vulnerable people in our society. Who’s going to serve you when you want coffee on the weekend. Dinner on a Saturday night. Worse still if you get sick on a weekend who will be there to look after you. I pity your mother in a nursing home with untrained staff as no penalty rates will drive all trained staff into different professions. If penalties are reduced or scrapped who will give up their family time?? Not me!!

  3. I wanted to become a vet way back in 1962. My parents said they could not afford it. I became a registered nurse instead . Enough said….

  4. we only have to look to the US to see how the reality of low wages worked out for workers. Why does this Govt. insist on copying the worst of the US and US’s policies? They are wrecking the joint.

  5. no penalty rates in the workplace……..lets see if the politicians will go without their perks first

  6. IT’S TIME AUSTRALIA,too make your voices heard,show this Abbott government you are not going to stand by and let them rob you of your penality rates,for your time you give up ,so they can trade on weekends and public holiday’s
    Boycot all woolworths stores ,who own a lot of hotels ,who are behind this government ,Boycot all cafe’s and restraunts on public holidays who want to rob you of what is rightfully yours
    Vote against ALL liberal candidates in the up coming elections in NSW,and QLD ,fight fire with fire

  7. @Robyn Hickey, what is wrong with being a registered nurse?

  8. If a worker refuses to work in an area that once attracted penalty rates the boss can get someone who will QED work choices. This comes from a pollie who never works on weekend and holidays or school holidays without massive cash payments.

  9. On a more general theme, I think we can agree that Abbott was an installation. A hackneyed term it is but real nonetheless, Big Business, of which the mainstream media is a part, installed him. The purpose of this was & is to dismantle the country, reassembling it again in a more suitable manner. These people are prepared to endure the chaos created in pursuit of a longer term goal.
    In a nutshell, Abbott doesn’t care about how much damage he does, he’s being looked after.

  10. I work 7 days a week in age care and disability if you take penalty rates away you take my home away 2 as I wont be able to pay my mortgage

  11. Mr Abbott, as a hospitality worker, I like everyone I work with rely greatly on weekend rates. I could not afford to pay rent or bills without them. So I ask please keep your grubby hands off them. I suppose if I earned the kind of money you and other politicians earn then I could go without , bit since I don’t , I think you should stay right away from them. No changes required. You think getting rid of them will help bring unemployment figures down, I believe it would have the opposite affect. Having to work most weekends can be hard enough let alone for no extra money. You watch how many people say they can no longer work weekends if you scrap our rates. Hands off.

  12. Sorry to say it folks, but Tony Abbott is not reading these comments. Yes, it’s fine to vent and I agree with much of what has been said here, but if you want to have some kind of effect then write to his office directly. Write to your local federal representatives and express your rage. One letter to a pollie won’t have much effect, but if everyone writes to them, they have to listen. And for F**K’s sake, Labor, get your act together! Grow a pair and stop playing follow the leader on policy!

  13. As a worker in the disability field I would like Abbot the( TWAT) to start my shift @ 6.00am with seven children under ten all on meds with the constant threat of fecking up!!! Make it through the shift despite the fact that your offsider may not be able to speak english ….because remember ,,,most of you would not get out of bed for my wage so only people who really need a job need apply. And that appears to mean no training needed….Abbot I have worked in Disability, Mental Health & Child Welfare for 30yrs take the $2.00 and you are still a TWAT and only because my mother would have wanted me to say. Regards Jude.

  14. I live on the mid north coast population 18,0000. unemployment is already at 14% due to towns main income is holiday visitors. I moved here for sea change 3 yrs ago. I only started a job last October. The only days I could get to work are weekends with a flat rate of $18.68 per hr / 24 hrs per week. If they cut my penalty rates I mos as well go back on new start. I’m prepared to loss $150 per week to have my weekends back. No intensive to work weekends with no penalty rates.

  15. Why is it that only one small section of society gets shafted just so a larger section of society can shop, eat and drink at THEIR convenience? I think politicians should have to work 26 weekends and 50% of the public holidays complete with a 15% reduction of their wages then maybe they would be able to contribute something worthwhile to the debate!

  16. I too work in hospitaliity in a small regional reef side town in Nth Queensland. The vast majority of the working population here is employed directly or indirectly in tourim/hospitality and trades services. If weekend and public holiday ‘penalty’ rates are removed we’re in big trouble collectively as there there are only so many people/backpackers willing to work weekends. Presently I’m employed for 7.5hrs on Saturday and Sunday – my choice. “What price do you put on your weekend and holidays?”. Answer, a lot. I’ll be changing my roster to weekdays or changing my job if penalty rates are removed.

  17. He doesn’t read them I’d imagine…. however… his government is wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer money on media monitoring, so someone in his govt may be…

  18. If and when the dip shits in Parliament disregard the working public (there Boss,s) and just do as they wish again. Let all part time workers all on penalty rates and even the few these days that actually have 38 hour per week jobs Get together and refuse to cater or serve any politicians out side of 9am to 5pm and only then on a day they are actually employed or (in the un likley event) doing there job for you the publlc .

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