Ministers Statements: Penalty Rates

HUTCHINS (Minister for Industrial Relations) — The Andrews government made a submission to the Productivity Commission’s inquiry into the workplace relations framework back in April. Yesterday the Productivity Commission handed down its draft report. We will be responding to this draft report. Members should make no mistake — this report signals a strong return to WorkChoices, and if it is implemented by the Abbott government, it will be devastating for many Victorian workers.

It proposes a system of enterprise contracts as well as a whole range of changes that will erode workers’ wages and conditions. It also proposes a two-tiered system where penalty rates for frontline occupations are maintained whilst lower paid workers, mainly in the retail and hospitality sector, will face reductions in their Sunday penalty rates. It will create an underclass of workers whose time with friends and family is valued less than that of other people in the workforce. Instead of attacking workers and resurrecting the worst elements of WorkChoices, the Abbott government should come up with fair ways to grow our economy.

This measure will really hit the 200 000-plus Victorian workers who work of a Sunday and will disproportionately affect women workers and the lowest paid workers. Clearly those opposite do not care as they walk out on this debate.

Honourable members interjecting.

Ms HUTCHINS — Whilst the gender pay gap continues to grow — almost edging at a 20 per cent difference between pay for men and women — I would like to quote Alison from Ballarat. She said:

While $60 is a drop in the ocean to you and your colleagues it is a house to me and your attack on penalty rates is what may cost me this dream.

The Andrews government will continue to stand up for the right of all workers to be compensated for working unsociable hours, unlike those opposite.