SOUTH Coast Labour Council secretary Arthur Rorris says MPs and overpaid corporate bosses should take a pay cut before suggesting weekend penalty rates should be scrapped.
Mr Rorris was responding to this week’s call by Gilmore MP Ann Sudmalis to have penalty rates cut as a means of boosting employment.
“When politicians like Ann Sudmalis agree to cut their wages and when executives agree to cap their exorbitant salaries, then they can come to us about reducing or addressing the issue of workers’ wages,” Mr Rorris said.
“We think it is outrageous that people like Ann Sudmalis prior to the election let the cat out of the bag that this was coming and then took it back and said it was a slip.”
Mr Rorris was referring to a gaffe made by Mrs Sudmalis at a pre-election forum staged by ABC Illawarra, in which she said all aspects of industrial relations would be on the table for review once the Coalition was elected.
“Well it wasn’t a slip, but it would have been nice if the Abbott government was honest about its intentions to slash wages,” he said.
“It’s not fair for you to ask the lowest paid sector to make the sacrifices.” he said.
Mrs Sudmalis made the call after recent report from the Brotherhood of St Laurence revealed Shoalhaven’s youth unemployment rate was almost 16 per cent. She is calling for support to cut weekend penalty rates.
Mrs Sudmalis suggested the move as one strategy to assist with youth unemployment.
She said local businesses had told her one of the main reasons they didn’t open for extended hours or on Sundays was the cost of paying penalty rates.
Mrs Sudmalis said she would like it to happen as one of a number of ways to reduce the local unemployment rate.
“It’s one strategy to assist, the Green Army to be launched after July is another strategy and we’ll have a newly-badged work for the dole.”
Shoalhaven Greens Councillor Amanda Findley took issue with the suggestion on social media, saying paying people less money would result in less money being spent in the local economy.
Cr Findley said greater incentives for employers to take on more staff would be more effective.
Mrs Sudmalis said, “Giving [unemployed people] some money means more spending money for people who don’t have a job.
“Do people want a job they get paid for, where they get superannuation, and are covered for workers’ compensation or do they want no work?
“When young people apply for a position they are asked if they have any work experience. It’s a catch-22 and this is one way of addressing that.”