The National Retail Association has demanded the Senate stop moving the goalposts on employment, saying constant threats of disruption to Fair Work arrangements were a massive disincentive to employment.
The Senate is scheduled to vote this week on Labor Party amendments which would knobble the independent umpire Labor set up to management workplace relations under the Gillard and Rudd Governments.
NRA Chief Executive Officer Dominique Lamb said Labor was trying to change the rules it had created simply because it didn’t like the decision of the Commission to amend slightly the level of Sunday penalty rates.
“When it was last in office, Labor empowered the Fair Work Commission to set penalty rates under the Modern Award system. For some retailers this resulted in a massive blowout in wages, despite the promises at the time that no employers would be worse off.
“At its four-year review, the independent Commission that Labor established took thousands of pages of evidence and considered the matter for more than a year before decision to shift Sunday penalty rates back to the same level as Saturday rates.
“This creates a consistent approach, and ensures that retail workers continue to receive fair compensation for working on the weekend.
“To ease any impact on workers, the Commission is staging this over several years, and currently Sunday penalty rates remain at 95 per cent of their previous level.
“The constant claim that penalty rates are being scrapped is simply misleading, and yet it is the basis for this attempt to change the rules.
“Retail business owners – the people who put their hands in their pockets to provide jobs for 1.2 million employees across Australia – have followed faithfully the rules that were set out by Labor. The decision of the Fair Work Commission has now also been upheld by the Federal Court.
“And yet, because the Opposition doesn’t like the verdict given by its independent Commission, it wants to claim for the Parliament the right to set penalty rates and prevent the Commission making a fair and balanced decision after weighing up all the evidence.
“This is an extraordinary over-reach, and one that should be voted down by sensible Senators who know that the independent Commission – not the Senate – is best placed to calmly and rationally assess all the evidence and make the best decision.”