Wednesday, 24 April 2019

Cuts to penalty rates

were made by the Fair Work Commission. If you listen to the man who would be Prime Minister you wouldn't know that. You would think the government was responsible. 
Penalty rates come from a time when shops closed on Saturday afternoons and didn't open on Sunday. Other services were restricted. People went to church on Sundays.
They were intended for people who had to work then. Medical staff, the emergency services and the like were the people for whom penalty rates were intended.
The world has changed - and changed dramatically. 
I recently ordered a particular sort of glue for the Senior Cat. I did it on a Sunday and I did it on an on-line site. I didn't expect to hear anything until the Monday but an hour or so later I had a message saying my order had been received - and it had been posted. No, I didn't expect it. Yes, I could have waited. I just happened to do it on line and didn't even think it might  be dealt with almost immediately. The person doing it was almost certainly not being paid any sort of penalty rate for working on a Sunday. It's a family business. When I apologised he replied it was a family business and, in order to keep their heads above water, they had to work seven days a week.
Should we being paying people more to work on a Sunday - more than they would on a Saturday?
The Fair Work Commission said no. The man who would be Prime Minister disagrees with the FWC. He complained that the government had not backed his efforts to increase Sunday rates and that he would increase them when he became Prime Minister.
Now there are a number of things wrong with this. The FWC was set up under his side of politics. He supported the idea. He supported the idea that there should be an "independent" umpire so strongly that he helped to set it up. He staffed it with people from his side of politics. He said they would be in the best position to know what was best for the country, for the workers he claims to represent. 
Now he claims not to agree with the independent umpire. He says he knows best. 
Of course it's a smart move. He knows that many of the people who get the penalty rates are young people who work part time at weekends. He's aiming to grab them with the bribe of a few extra dollars - and turn them into voters for his party for life. He understands the psychology very well.  If they should happen to lose their jobs because a small employer goes out of business  he will simply say that the business was not well run. He will never admit that wages were perhaps too high.
And now, in this morning's paper, there is a piece about the same man saying he will make it much easier for "casual" employees to become "permanent". I sympathise with people who are casual. I know more than most people about an uneven work flow and never knowing what will come next. I know what it is like to live on a very limited income. But I doubt that the proposed policy will work. It may well do much more harm than good. It may even result in fewer people being employed and less certainty than before. Still, it sounds good and people may vote for it - and that will really be the only concern of the man who would be Prime Minister. His record as a union boss showed little concern for the workers as long as money was flowing into the union coffers.
Am I worried? Yes. I think we all need to rethink our standard of living.  We need to rethink our tax system too.
Neither is likely to happen.

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