Bill's Media Releases


Tony Abbott must immediately rule out ever supporting employer claims to reduce penalty rates or undermine the pay and conditions of Australian workers.

 Around 1.2 million Australians currently work in the Retail Trade industry and a further 800,000 Australians work in the  Accommodation and Food Services industry.

 These are the Australians who disproportionately rely on penalty rates, overtime and other entitlements, guaranteed under the Fair Work system, to make ends meet.

 7 out of every 10 workers in the Accommodation and Food Services industry work on weekends and more than half the workers in the Retail industry work on weekends. 

 Penalty rates represent approximately 11 per cent of the salary of a casual restaurant worker and 9 per cent of a casual hospitality worker who regularly work weekends.

 Even with penalty rates, full-time adult workers in the Retail Trade industry only earn around $53,000 per year and full-time adult workers in the Accommodation and Food Services industry receive around $52,000 per year.

 That’s why the latest attack on penalty rates from Tony Abbott is so significant. Speaking at a Liberal party forum yesterday, Mr Abbott indicated how he could pressure the independent umpire to strip back penalty rates if in government.  

 ABBOTT: I think the best way forward, at least initially, is to try to ensure that the award situation does maximise employment, and at the moment we are not maximising employment by closing down businesses and preventing people from getting jobs.

 I am confident that if the government were to back, for argument’s sake, applications to the Fair Work Commission for adjustments in this area it may well be successful.


  In stark contrast, Australian workers know where they stand with Labor. The Gillard Government is unequivocally committed to supporting and protecting the take home pay of Australian workers, including penalty rates and public holidays.