Apparently Sundays aren't that special anymore

Last Thursday the Fair Work Commission made a decision on penalty rates after two years of debate on the controversial issue. 

Fair Work Commission president Iain Ross, who is on a six figure salary, determined that hospitality, retail and fast food workers were receiving penalty rates that were not in line with modern society, economics and business.

As a young woman working as a part-time journalist, casually at my local pub, studying full-time and living out of home, I am upset by the changes.

I work as a casual in hospitality so fortunately my Sunday rates will not change, unlike my fellow university students working in the fast food or retail industries. But my public holiday rates will be reduced from 275 per cent to 250 per cent as of July 1. 

This is just another blow in the war against young people. 

The government is continually telling young people the way to afford a house is to get a good paying job. But now, even if we’ve got one of those, our reduced wage will make it harder for us to finish university, support ourselves and enter the property market.

Every week we give up our weekend and every year we give up Boxing Day, Anzac Day, New Years Day and Australia Day, to name a few. These days are some of the best on the social calendar and instead we work because the penalty rates are worth it. Now they’re not worth it – but we will probably still end up working. 

It upsets me that my parent’s and grandparent’s generation fought hard for safe working conditions and rights, annual leave, a 40 hour working week and penalty rates for those ‘missing out’ on usual weekend activities like the rest of society, to work.

The Victorian Trades Hall Council secretary Luke Hilakari told Fairfax last week “this is going to be the greatest cut to working people’s wages since the Great Depression”.

It is estimated over a million workers will face a pay cut of more than 20 per cent. 

The Fair Work Commission said the changes would help small businesses who had stopped trading on Sundays because they are unable to afford wages. Though in reality, big businesses including JB Hi-Fi and Myer were among the biggest lobbyists of the cuts. The way I see it, Australia is on their way to the future via the 1950s.

  •  Mikaela Mahony is a reporter for north-west Sydney.
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