COMMENT | War has been waged

Hospitality workers will be paid less on Sundays and public holidays.
Hospitality workers will be paid less on Sundays and public holidays.

That green thing mixed in with your eggs and bacon – that’s phlegm.

Get used to it.

The Fair Work Commission's decision to slash Sunday and public holiday penalty rates for some hospitality, fast food and retail workers effectively spits in the face of those lowly-paid employees.

So you’ve got to expect a loogie or two to be hocked right back from those disgruntled workers. And who could blame them?

It’s mind-boggling how the suits at the Fair Work Commission decided that slashing the penalty rates was a fair outcome.

It’s not.

No amount of spin or talk of “boosting jobs and helping small business owners” can water down the bare and brutal truth that the nation’s lowest paid workers will, from July, be worse off.

The rate cuts are not only unfair, they’re undemocratic.

Those at the “independent” commission who made the decision weren’t even appointed by the people of Australia whose lives are affected by the decision.

They were appointed by the government. The same government that has washed its hands of any responsibility regarding the rate cuts.

Sure, the government may not have pulled the trigger but it sure as hell loaded the gun and handed it to the mad man.

The commission is meant to be fair, independent and free of political bias.

Fair enough. But there are certain decisions – such as slugging the nation’s lowest-paid workers – that need to be made by the politicians. That’s what they were elected to do. Make hard decisions and live or die by them (figuratively speaking of course).

When asked about the rate cuts, Hume MP Angus Taylor reiterated: one, the need to accept the decision; and two, that politicians, no matter what party they were a member of, couldn’t influence the commission’s decision.

“Institutions matter in Australia. We are a country that doesn’t have centralised power, and institutions like the Fair Work Commission exist for a very good reason. I can’t affect the decision made by the Fair Work Commission,” he said.

Mr Taylor is right.

He can’t affect the commission’s decision. Nor is he personally responsible for appointing those who sit on the commission.

But he certainly has a responsibility to fight for the lowly-paid workers in his electorate who will now have fewer dollars to take home to their families, to buy food to feed those families and to pay electricity bills to keep those families in some form of first-world comfort.

Mr Taylor is not alone – most Liberal MPs were reluctant to criticise last week’s decision.

But it’s easy to dismiss those concerns when you’ve never been put in a situation where you are forced to flip burgers on a Sunday to make ends meet.

State Liberal MPs Chris Patterson (Camden) and Jai Rowell (Wollondilly) also said they could see the pros and cons.

There are no pros, the whole thing is one giant con.

Labor MPs were quick to condemn the decision. While the genuine sentiment behind their statements isn’t being questioned, it should be pointed out it’s the Opposition’s job to kick up a stink.

Blaming the government for a decision such as the rate cuts, is an easy way to score valuable political points for a party desperate to regain power.

Though it can also backfire. “Attention Bill Shorten, where are you? It’s your time to shine.”

The Opposition leader fronted the media with a worker crying foul of the changes, only for it to be pointed out that worker won’t actually be affected because the enterprise agreement protects them.

Mr Shorten has a long history with the unions. He should know much, much better.

But maybe he was a bit tired because the disgruntled worker who made his morning latte “forgot” to give him his usual pick-me-up double shot. Get used to it, Bill.


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