Federal Liberal backbencher Dan Tehan has suggested penalty rates need to be changed and wants Sunday loadings to be halved.
The ABC reports that Tehan believes penalty rates are having a “draconian effect” on local communities and need to be changed to allow businesses to survive.
“There is a widespread view, I think, that something needs to be done in looking at this,” said.
“Do we need to reduce the rate which is being paid on a Sunday and, in particular, for students?
“Students want to study during the week and they want to work on weekends, so therefore should businesses be paying a 200 per cent premium having to employ them?”
The Government promised before the election that it would not alter penalty rates during this term of government. And it pledged that no worker would be worse off under a Coalition Government.
However, it has already introduced legislation to allow workers to trade off conditions like penalty rates in return for more flexible hours and there is pressure among the business community and others to go further with industrial relations reforms.
And the Government has gained support from an unlikely place. As the SMH reports, former Labor minister Martin Ferguson has called for the Labor Party to support the Government’s IR reforms.
Ferguson, the current chairman of the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association, said in a speech in Perth on Friday that the Government’s IR reforms are “sensible”.
”High labour costs and low productivity are an unsustainable mix. And therefore elements of the Fair Work Act must be looked at,” he said.
This position did not go down well with the Labor Party. The Opposition workplace relations spokesman Brendan O’Connor told Sky News on Sunday that he was “very disappointed” but “not entirely surprised” with Ferguson’s comments.
“He has joined the other side – that’s not a slight, that’s not a conspiracy theory, it’s the reality,” O’Connor said.