Getting on the bad side of your waiter is never a good idea if you value your food quality, and that is exactly what Malcolm Turnball did this week when he decided to slash penalty rates across the hospitality, fast food, and retail sectors. As a result, it is once again the working class who suffer the blow of his latest political stunt, many who will see a decrease of up to $6000 a year.
Most articles have covered the financial impact of such an economic change in the system – the idea that small businesses will be able to ‘afford to stay open on a Sunday’, and that most workers in these industries will bear the burden of a reduced pay. But what they also haven’t considered is the social sacrifices that these people make in order to pay the bills. With a 9-5, Monday to Friday week still reigning as the dominant work schedule, people who work on weekends are sacrificing prime social time spent with family and friends in order to earn a living. Up until now, penalty rates softened the blow of weekend work, making it worthwhile. But take away this reward, and suddenly you are taking away the very reason why people choose to work on these days to begin with. Why work Sundays, when you can make the same amount working a shift on any other day of the week?
This decision has completely undermined the whole system of supply and demand. To put it shortly – weekends are busier. Busy weekends means that businesses need more staff. Yet if there is nothing in it for the worker to give up spending good quality social time in order to take the Sunday shift, then why would they. In fact, this is why penalty rates were needed in the first place – to entice workers to take weekend shifts in order to meet the supply required for service demand.
So unless the government is planning on introducing higher award rates in these industries to counteract this change, the system will crumble in on itself, and what you’re left with is longer queues and waiting times, understaffed business, and frustrated customers who are being served by the few who need the work so much they take the cuts on the chin.
Just a little note to you dear Malcolm – if you want to keep eating those Sunday Sandwiches, you better undo what you’ve done, because you’ve pissed off every chef and server in the country, and you’ve got a lot of spit coming your way.