Small Business won’t thank driver of Bill Bus

Monday 3 April, 2017

CCIQ is delighted that Opposition Leader Bill Shorten is making Far North Queensland the first stop on his regional bus tour where he will get to meet many of the 22,049 small businesses that call the region home and contribute to the employment of over 110,000 locals across every imaginable industry.

Hopefully the businesses will take the opportunity to visit the tour bus and engage with Mr Shorten at one of the town hall events where they can ask why he seems intent on shifting their economic goalposts and making their lives harder, ignoring the advice of the Fair Work Commission, yet all the while turning a blind eye to the activities of the union movement who have done more to harm the pay-packets of workers on a Sunday than any of the region’s small businesses.

Any small businesses attending the town hall should ask Mr Shorten:

  • Why can big businesses pay $7.15 or almost 20 per cent less per hour on a Sunday than small businesses? 
  • Why does Bill Shorten oppose the cut to penalty rates that will help small business yet didn’t oppose the EBA negotiated by the unions that mean workers earn less and big business get another leg up?
  • Will Bill Shorten endorse workers leaving their unionised roles and going to work for small business where they will be paid more for their Sunday labour?
  • When penalty rates were traded away by the unions as part of their sweetheart deals with big business where were Labor’s objections?
  • What message does Bill Shorten have for the workers who get paid far less on a Sunday than those who operate under an award?

The irony of the bus tour and penalty rates campaign is that they are not ending with a mass demonstration outside the offices of the union movement, according to the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ).

CCIQ says it is the union movement that has done more to harm workers’ pay packets on a Sunday than the Fair Work Commission decision to bring a balance to Sunday penalty rates. 

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Australia’s three largest employers are Coles, Woolworths, and McDonalds. They all operate under Enterprise Bargaining Agreements (EBA) that allow them to pay less in wages on a Sunday than any small business.

Enterprise bargaining is a legislated process of negotiation that occurs between the employer, employees and the relevant union to create an enterprise agreement.

Under union-negotiated agreements, Coles, Woolworths and McDonalds pay less penalties to a casual worker on a Sunday than a small business does.

For example, a 21-year-old casual worker at McDonalds will make about $25 an hour on Sunday, whereas those employed by independent small businesses are paid $34 an hour under the current award rates.

Those working in an IGA are paid about 22 per cent more than those working at Woolworths on a Sunday. Under the proposed changes, the rate for small independents is still 7 per cent higher than those secured under Woolworths’ EBA.

A CCIQ spokesman said deals done by unions are responsible for workers at Coles, Woolworths, and McDonalds being paid significantly less than the award wage on a Sunday.

“Small businesses on the other hand are required to pay the award wage on Sundays for their employees,” he said.

“The recent commission decision on penalty rates impacts most of the small business community of Queensland.

“The penalties were not abolished and small businesses did not want them abolished. But they do want balance – a balance between a fair wage for their workers and being able to open their doors and compete.

“The proposed penalty rates are sensible and balanced with what is commercially viable for small businesses to open on Sundays in the hospitality, retail, and fast food sectors.”

The CCIQ spokesman said small business continued to be the lifeblood of the economy with more than 400,000 SMEs across the state employing more than 865,000 people.

“They pay penalties at the award rate. They employ young people and they employ locals.

“According to CCIQ research, they will offer extra shifts, take on more employees and offer extra hours to existing staff – all the while paying a better wage than those negotiated by the unions.

“Mr Shorten’s opposition to the commission determination is absurd. The bus tour only highlights that it is Mr Shorten’s mates in the SDA who are the ones who slashed penalty rates by supporting the big end of town.

“You would assume Mr Shorten would be up in arms about the nation’s biggest employers paying less than the award rate on a Sunday.

“If Mr Shorten wants to pretend he is campaigning for penalty rates, the first call he must make is to the "shoppies" union.

“He should order them to stop cutting sweetheart deals with big business, while small business continues to suffer.

“Where were the self-declared ‘defenders of workers’ rights’ when these agreements were being negotiated?

“Well, they we’re looking the other way as the unions were cosying up at the negotiating table and cutting a deal that eroded workers’ pay on a Sunday.”


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