The Productivity Commission has been requested to confirm that it will go ahead with its planned Ipswich public hearing next week and give Queensland workers the chance to defend their wages from cuts to penalty rates.
The Productivity Commission unexpectedly cancelled a hearing in Perth set to be held this week, just a few days before the Canning federal by-election.
Queensland unions believe the cancellation of the Perth hearing might be politically-motivated as the Abbott government battles sinking opinion polls.
A draft Productivity Commission report last month recommended cutting penalty rates for retail and hospitality workers.
Queensland Council of Unions President John Battams said the cuts could take up to $60 a week from the wages of more than 24,000 retail and hospitality workers in the Ipswich area.
“These workers are itching to have the opportunity to explain why penalty rates for working unsociable hours are so important to putting food on the table for their family.
Sitting federal LNP members have consistently failed to support penalty rates, and are watching on as our lowest-paid workers face a wages cut.
“This public hearing is too important to be used as a political plaything by a federal government that seems out of touch with the lives of Australian workers,” said Mr Battams.
“The federal government seems to have no understanding that cutting penalty rates will impact on thousands of retail and hospitality workers and their families, as well as drain $72 million a year from the Ipswich economy,” he said.
“There’s no evidence that cutting penalty rates will address unemployment, and indeed could make it worse by taking money out of local economies,” he said.
A time and venue for the Ipswich hearing is still yet to be announced on the Productivity Commission’s website, which is less than seven days away.
“Workers have prepared substantial cases to present at the Ipswich hearing and they just want the opportunity to have a say,” he said.
“It’s time that the Coalition puts aside its in-fighting and gives workers the chance to show how important penalty rates are to their family’s livelihoods.”