Unions getting on with the job protecting weekend penalty rates

Queensland unions remain focused on protecting weekend penalty rates as the major priority for the coming year.

Queensland Council of Unions President John Battams said 2016 would be business as usual for unions, preparing to repel business and Liberal National Party attacks on wages and conditions.

“Business enjoyed a billion-dollar boost over the holiday period but still they want to cut weekend penalty rates and the pay packets of our lowest paid workers,” Mr Battams said.

News outlets reported that Queenslanders spent $1.2 billion between Boxing Day and the weekend past, an increase of 12 per cent on spending from the same period last year.

“It’s unbelievable that the Liberal National Party politicians, including the Prime Minister, are refusing to stand up for the wages of hardworking Australians who sacrifice family and social time over the holiday break – and throughout the year - to strengthen our economy,” he said.

“Slashing weekend penalty rates would be the largest pay cut in Australia’s history and puncture any economic confidence,” he said.

Queensland tourism operators are also saying this has been a bumper year for visitors and spending.

“It seems that prevailing economic conditions including the exchange rate are the key issue for the tourism industry, not weekend penalty rates,” Mr Battams said.

The campaign to protect weekend penalty rates will not be distracted by Liberal National Party attempts to use its royal commission findings to smear the union movement and attack rights at work in a federal election year.

“Workplace health and safety is always a critical issue for unions but it’s firmly in the spotlight in 2016, with the royal commission directly undermining safety standards through its recommendations,” Mr Battams said.

“Unions will fight to maintain current workplace health and safety legislation in Queensland, including right of entry provisions, which ensures dodgy bosses can’t cover up unsafe workplaces,” he said.

“Queenslanders less than a year ago tossed out an LNP government which trampled over rights at work,” he said.

“It’s unreal that Turnbull’s LNP now proposes to overturn the wishes of voting Queenslanders in its attempts to silence unions and their members,” he said.

"In Queensland the royal commission referred for prosecution more business executives than union officials. For an inquiry supposedly uncovering corruption that is a pretty poor outcome for the millions of taxpayer dollars the Commission spent on its several hearings in Brisbane."

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