Penalty rate win for casual retail workers

Nick Hall

Retail, fast-food and warehousing union, the SDA has announced a major win for over 350,000 casual workers in the retail sector.

The result of the Fair Work Commission sees penalty rates for casual retail workers increased on Saturdays and for evening work from November this year.

Gerard Dwyer, SDA national secretary welcomed the Fair Work Commission decision, suggesting the announcement would result in significant pay increases for hundreds of thousands of Australian retail workers.

“After a long and hard-fought battle, the SDA has been successful in winning a penalty rate increase for casual employees after 6pm Monday to Friday, and a 25 per cent penalty rate increase for all ordinary hours worked on a Saturday,” Dwyer said.

“This win means that casual workers covered by the Retail Award will receive casual loading on top of penalty rate loadings for weeknights and Saturdays”.

First lodged in 2015, the SDA’s application to improve casual rates in the General Retail Industry Award (GRIA) has served as a critical component of the commission’s long-running review of modern awards.

Dwyer said the latest retail award result had the potential to greatly influence the way operations and work/life balance are addressed within the sector.

“This will result in significant pay increases for over 350,000 hard-working retail employees on the Award and will have important flow effects for employees on enterprise bargaining agreements right across Australia’s retail sector,” Dwyer said.

“These measures go some way to addressing the unjust treatment of casual workers under the Award who are not properly compensated for the absence of sick pay, annual leave and the insecurity of work.”

Positive wage reform has been championed by the SDA and the union movement for some time now, however, Dwyer suggests the business community had continued efforts to undermine the livelihoods of honest, hard-working Australians.

“While the union movement is fighting and winning pay increases for low income workers such as this, the business community seeks to destroy permanent jobs with schemes such as the recent ‘perma-flexi’ proposal.”

“The Reserve Bank and Federal Treasury have been clear in their assertions that historic low wage growth is a major handbrake on the Australian economy. Australians need a pay rise, not a pay cut and business needs to get onboard.”

The pay increases will be phased in over the next three years to 2020.