Lowest paid workers hit by Abbott's wages inquiry

Queenslanders and their unions are already planning a renewed community campaign against pay cuts for more than half a million low-paid workers in Queensland.

Today’s draft Productivity Commission report, sought by the Abbott Government, recommends a two-tiered wages system that would cut wages for more than 500,000 workers in Queensland’s retail and hospitality sectors.

Queensland Council of Unions President John Battams blasted the report for recommending a pay cut for the lowest paid workers in the country.

“Our lowest paid workers will be worse off by hundreds of dollars a month if the federal government endorses this recommendation.

“This two tiered system will create an underclass of working poor in Queensland and Australia,” he said.

“There is no evidence that cutting penalty rates will increase productivity or employment,” he said.

“However, it will definitely reduce the take-home pay of Queensland working families  who can least afford it.

“Queenslanders and their unions in every sector have been campaigning in their local communities on this issue over the past two years, ever since the Abbott government bowed to big business demands to cut penalty rates.

“Workers who work unsociable hours deserve to be fairly compensated for their work serving us in restaurants, filling our prescriptions, caring for our sick and elderly, and ensuring our public safety,” Mr Battams said.

“Cutting weekend and penalty rates will strip billions from the state’s economy,” he said.

“Workers are already tightening their belts, with ABS statistics showing annual wage growth falling to a 17-year low,” Mr Battams said.

“Over the past two years Queenslanders and their unions have conducted regional campaigns to make this a major pre-election issue in Cairns and Townsville, where there are thousands and thousands of workers in retail and hospitality.

“We will fight to make sure these workers get a fair go and are paid a decent wage to put food on the table for them and their families.

“Queenslanders will want to make this an issue in the federal election, especially in areas relying on tourism workers.”

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