ANZAC Day is now just the same as any other day for thousands of retail and hospitality workers who will have to work today (25 April) and will not be paid a cent more than usual says the ACTU.

Under new AWA individual contracts, many employees will earn less than half of what they would have received on a public holiday under an award or union-negotiated enterprise agreement.

ACTU President Sharan Burrow today condemned the widespread loss of public holiday payments under the Howard Government’s IR laws.

Ms Burrow said: “Unions are finding a big rise in the number of workers in shops, cafes and bars who are being paid the same for working on a public holiday as they are for any other day.

For example, the Mean Fiddler Irish Restaurant in the outer Sydney suburb of Rouse Hill is open this afternoon on Anzac Day but is paying its permanent staff only $13 or $14 an hour when they would have received more than twice this amount, $33 an hour, under the NSW Hospitality award.

Another unfair job contract example in Meadow Heights, a western suburb of Melbourne, has the employees of the Morgans IGA supermarket working today from 12 noon to 9pm on Anzac Day for their base rate of $15.02 an hour. This is $24.52 an hour less than they would have earned on a public holiday under their old collective agreement.

Under the Morgans IGA contract, workers have been forced to sign away their penalty rates without any compensation.

The plain fact is that with the loss of any extra pay for working on a public holiday, Anzac Day is no longer protected under the new IR laws.

Cutting people’s pay by $20 an hour on Anzac Day is un-Australian and further evidence of how un-Australian are John Howard’s industrial relations laws,” said Ms Burrow.

Previously confidential statistics from the government released last week show that more than half (52%) of AWA individual contracts registered under the new IR laws have abolished public holiday pay.

The ACTU has welcomed the commitment by Labor Leader Kevin Rudd to restore the right of Australian workers to public holiday pay.