The ACCI submission to the Productivity Commission lays bare their longstanding determination to slash the pay and working conditions of millions of Australian workers.

ACCI says that award-only covered workers – of which there are 1.86 million in Australia – should no longer receive penalty rates, shift loadings or allowances.

Their submission also makes clear that they want to make it easier to sack workers of small businesses by taking away protections from unfair dismissal.

ACCI continues to make unfounded assertions suggesting that cutting pay and making it easier to sack people will result in more jobs – this is just a nonsense. ACCI has not presented any evidence to justify this.

The Facts:

Hospitality and retail businesses are actually spending less on wages than they have in the past:

  • ABS figures show that the share of business income going towards wages in several key sectors has fallen in recent years.
  • In food and accommodation – the total wages share was 78 per cent in 2013-14, down from a peak of 87 per cent in 1997-98.
  • In retail – the total wages share has fallen from a peak of 79 per cent in 1997-98 to just 73 per cent in 2013-14

Working patterns have not substantially changed as claimed by the business lobby:

In 1997, 69.7% of us had jobs from Monday to Friday; in 2012 this figure was 68.9%. The fact is that the majority of Australians work Monday to Friday.

Some of the most vulnerable employees rely on penalty rates in Awards to make ends meet.  Close to 40% of the Award dependent workforce is employed in two industries – Accommodation and Food Services and Retail Trade.  These are the industries where the loudest critics of penalty rates reside.

Even mid-senior levels of workers on those awards – such as Retail staff with some management responsibility, Cooks, Bar Staff, Front of House Staff and Waiters in Fine Dining Restaurants – receive less than Full Time Average Weekly Total Earnings even if they worked a full time week at double time for every hour worked[1].

Quotes attributable to ACTU President Ged Kearney

“The business lobby’s answer to everything is to cut workers’ pay and make it easier to sack them.

“There are millions of Australians who cannot afford the sudden pay cut that will come with having their penalty rates cut.

“Penalty rates are part of take home wages that hard working Australians rely on to pay their rent or mortgage and put food on the table.

 “If you cut people’s wages, they have less money to spend in shops, pharmacies and cafes – the very businesses that are driving this attack.

“Millions of Australians sacrifice their weekends, nights and public holidays away from family and friends to work and they should be paid for that.

“Cutting penalty rates or the minimum wage has nothing to do with job creation or productivity – it is about cutting people’s pay packets.”


Award Reliant Employees by State:






















[1] The level 4 rate of pay in the General Retail, Restaurants and Hospitality Awards is $746.20.   Full Time Adult Average Weekly Total Earnings as at November 14 was $1,539.40 (ABS 6302).