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Business push to cut penalty rates: where does Abbott stand?

Today’s report by the Tourism and Transport Forum calling for penalty rates to be reduced for tourism operators is more evidence of a growing push by business to remove penalty rates, the ACTU said today.

ACTU President Ged Kearney said the report ignored the economic benefits of penalty rates and the fact that many low-paid workers needed them to survive.

“This report is more evidence of the pressure being put on Tony Abbott to change penalty rates if he wins government.”

“Business groups tried to use Fair Work Australia to cut penalty rates earlier this year but were knocked back, because they could produce no reliable evidence that they cost jobs.

“They have said they’ll try again, with what appears to be the encouragement of the Coalition. Shadow IR Minister Eric Abetz and Liberal MP Sussan Ley have both said suggested they would back employers in a bid to reduce penalty rates.”

“We need Tony Abbott to commit to making no changes to penalty rates if he is elected, rather than hiding behind his mysterious Productivity Commission inquiry into IR.”

“Penalty rates have been part of the Australian workplace for decades and provide much-needed income for low-paid workers who are required to work week-ends and public holidays.”

“Cutting penalty rates will hurt workers without creating jobs. Money paid as penalty rates does not disappear it is returned to the economy when workers use it to buy goods and services from businesses. Reducing penalty rates will hurt these businesses.”

“Polling conducted by Essential Research shows that not only do the majority of Australians support retaining penalty rates, they believe that scrapping them will not create extra jobs.”

“We are not surprised that the TTF’s report is being launched during an election campaign. We know business has a long-term agenda to get rid of penalty rates to increase profits.”

The ACTU has written to Liberal federal election candidates to urge them to commit to protecting penalty rates if they are elected.