Slashing penalty rates could cripple workers
SLASHING penalty rates will greatly affect the Clarence Valley community and the local economy, according to Labor candidate for Page, Janelle Saffin.
Yesterday, Ms Saffin and the Shadow Minister for Employment Brendon O'Connor met with members of the Grafton community to discuss how the Federal governments proposed slashing of penalty rates would effect them.
"Penalty rates go to workers who spend money on goods and services in their region, but if penalty rates are reduced then money will be returned to companies as profits, and most likely taken out of the community," she said.
According to a report by The McKell Institute, the electorate of Page could lose approximately $7.2 million from the local economy.
Mr O'Connor said it was a double whammy for Grafton because because the cuts would affect the community and the local economy.
"The reality is it would cut the income of thousands," Mr O'Connor said.
He also said the people who work in industries which pay penalties rates were historically underpaid.
One of those industries is aged care.
"The majority of the workers in aged care work part time and work for about $20 an hour as a base rate," Kirk Rostock, the Heath Services Union Organiser for the North Coast, said.
"To lose penalty rates would be absolutely devastating to the sector," he said.
Clarence Valley-based aged care worker Lee Jones said if she lost penalty rates she would lose a third of her pay.
"I would have to choose what it is that I'm going to pay, whether I'm going to pay for medication, whether I'm going to have money for food, the electricity, water rates," she said.
Ms Jones said a lot of people who work in aged care work there because they care about the people.
"If you were working for the money you'd find a different job.
"But it is those penalty rates that give us the ability to actually keep the job that we want so that we can take care of these people," Ms Jones said.