The hypocrisy behind Bill Shorten’s stance on Sunday penalty rates


Union agreements with big businesses has seen some workers denied as much as $1800 a year in lost penalty rates. While many members of right-wing circles vehemently oppose weekend penalty rates, the point here does not concern Labor’s decision directly. The point here concerns the hypocrisy Bill Shorten and his party have displayed in cheating Australian workers through backdoor deals with big employers.

Minister for Employment, Senator Michaelia Cash, has been at the forefront in exposing this scandal to the Australian public. Senator Cash told 2GB’s Mark Levy that “Bill Shorten has yet again been caught out misleading the Australian people”.

She is absolutely right. The Senator stated, “What you can see now…is for years and years, big unions have negotiated deals with big employers that cut or abolished Sunday penalty rates for workers”.

It looks like Bill Shorten is perfectly comfortable with having unions make backdoor deals with big businesses by cutting penalty rates, but is not ok when the independent Fair Work Commission slightly reduces Sunday penalty rates to ease the regulatory burden on Australian small businesses. Senator Cash is right in telling the Daily Telegraph that “The Labor Party is happy for penalty rates to be reduced so long as it is their union masters who are negotiating the deals.”

Bill Shorten’s hypocrisy is further made blatantly clear when examining his behaviour while he was national secretary at the Australian Workers’ Union. During his time at its helm, Mr Shorten struck a deal with Target that saw workers paid $47.91 less than the Retail Industry Award. This amounts to $2491 a year in total.

The North Queensland workers who were covered by this pay deal, despite being paid an extra $1.98 on weekdays, were paid a total of $55.83 less on Sunday. Please take note that this has come from a man who leads a party that flies around the country pretending to “put people first”.

A similar deal was carried out between McDonald’s and the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association in 2013. This deal saw workers paid an additional $12.47 for the work week, but paid $61.41 less on Sundays.

A similar scenario can be seen at KFC, with workers at Tweed Heads paid $60.55 less on Sunday thanks to the deal with the AWU and the SDA.

This begs the question of why Mr Shorten would so vehemently oppose a mere 5% reduction on Sunday penalty rates. It is clear that the Labor leader is simply playing politics every chance he gets, instead of constructively contributing to Australia’s political environment.

Labor defended the deals by saying that there is no issue with unions negotiating lower penalty rates with big businesses on Sunday as they compensate workers by increasing the rates on weekdays. This is rendered as complete codswallop when considering the fact that the loss in penalty rates greater than the increase in weekday rates for many workers.

Again, it has to be emphasised that this issue does not concern the resulting loss in pay for workers covered by these deals. What it does concern however is the fact that Bill Shorten has the nerve to berate the government for supporting the independent Fair Work Commission’s decision despite having a history of making deals that did result in an overall loss for workers. This has hypocrisy written all over it, and further supports the fact that neither Bill Shorten nor his party are fit to lead this country.

With the current turbulence that afflicts the Liberal Party, the risk of a Shorten Prime Ministership is at an all-time high. The division between the left and the right of the “broad church” that is the Liberal Party is retarding the party’s ability to appeal to voters, which provides Mr Shorten with an even greater advantage in the next election. Australians cannot have a regressive hypocrite running their country, and thus the Liberals must fix itself in order to ensure this does not happen.

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