SDA SA penalty rates deal cuts wages for casual workers

Penalty rates have been a fixture of the industrial relations landscape for generations, and zealously protected by the union movement.

Imagine the workers' movement's surprise then at the agreement reached between the Shop, Distributive  and Allied Employees Association and Business South Australia to end Saturday and evening penalty rates in the state, halve those paid on Sundays, and reduce them on public holidays from 150 per cent to 100 per cent. That the deal appears to have been initiated by the "Shoppies" would have been doubly satisfying for the Business Council.

In exchange for the ratcheting back of loadings, the deal will see full time permanent retail workers receive a higher base wage, an annual pay rise of 3 per cent, and the right to refuse to work on Sundays and public holidays.

Those workers in retail for whom penalties matter more than most, ie casuals, will be the losers from the SDA initiative. Unfortunately, 40 - 45% of the workers in the retail industry are casual.

Penalty rates help compensate casuals for the frequently irregular nature of their employment and because they otherwise receive no holiday pay or sickness benefits. All weekend shift workers (permanent or casual) who forgo the chance to socialise or spend time with family and friends should be compensated for that lost opportunity.

The South Australian Agreement that the Business Council and the SDA are promoting looks like another Sellout Deal Available