Church employer group condemns wage cut for low paid workers

Church employer group condemns wage cut for low paid workers



Leading employer group the Catholic Commission for Employment Relations (CCER) has condemned the Fair Work Commission decision to cut the pay of some of Australia’s lowest paid workers through reductions in penalty rates.

This comes as CCER hosts Opposition Leader Bill Shorten at the first Faith at Work Dialogue for 2017 at the Museum of Sydney today 1pm.

CCER Executive Director Tony Farley said:

“You don’t create prosperity by kicking the people at the bottom of the heap.

“Less money in the pockets of some of our lowest paid workers is bad for the economy, will mean significant hardship for families and children and won’t create a single new job.

“If the system allows for pay cuts to workers who are already struggling then the system is broken. The federal government must now take steps to restore confidence and boost pay and conditions.

“This slippery slope to continued erosion of pay and conditions for those who are already struggling is of great concern to Church employers.

“Australia already faces growing labour shortages in the health care, aged and disability care sectors and can ill afford to make these sectors less attractive to prospective employees.

“It is not despite the 24 hour seven-day-a-week economy, but precisely because of it that we must retain penalty rates in order to protect the interests of our lowest paid and most vulnerable workers.”

“Church employers understand that we live in a community not an economy. While the notion of the Sabbath may have lost some currency in our secular society, there is a continued need for a day of rest, to play, to socialise and to worship.”

“All workers and employers who care about the conditions of low paid workers should be taking a stand on this. This terrible decision will set the scene for reductions in rates for the rest of the workforce.”

CCER rejects the decision for the following reasons

  • Vulnerable workers will have their pay cut – reductions will disproportionately affect Australia’s lowest paid workers, who rely on penalty rates to protect their living standards, and have a major and often devastating impact on these workers and their families.
  • Flow on reductions will hurt the economy – reductions in low paid workers’ incomes will have adverse consequences on their ability to purchase goods and services from other businesses.
  • Sundays are still ‘special’ – working on weekends has a detrimental impact on people’s chances to unwind and reboot. Sunday, in particular, retains special status for Australians as a day preserved for rest, recreation and family time, particularly for parents with children. Research shows that quality time is essential to keeping families strong, a key value of the Catholic Church.
  • Two tier system is unfair and discriminatory – it is fundamentally inequitable to treat the retail and hospitality industries differently to others such as nursing, aged care and police where existing penalty rates will and should continue to be paid.
  • No evidence new jobs will be created – there is no reliable evidence or economic analysis that removing penalty rates will boost employment and job creation. Even if there was, it is not morally acceptable to reduce unemployment by lowering the wages of the most vulnerable.

Opposition leader, Bill Shorten, will be launching CCER’s Faith at Work Dialogues for 2017 today in Sydney from 1-2pm, with refreshments served from 12.

Conducted by the Catholic Commission for Employment Relations, the Faith at Work Dialogues feature prominent Australians whose ideas stimulate debate and promote reflection on how our personal beliefs intersect with our professional lives.

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