Liberal senator Eric Abetz has called for a 'fair go' for existing workers on penalty rates cuts

Photo: Indranil Mukherjee/ AFP/ Getty Images.

Liberal senator, and former employment minister, Eric Abetz has called for a fairer go for existing workers under new penalty rates cuts, which are expected to impact 700,000 workers in the retail, hospitality and tourism sectors.

In an opinion piece for Fairfax Media, Abetz says he supports the reduced rates for new employees but said the Fair Work Commission needs to ensure the new scheme is “implemented in a fair and equitable manner”.

“In order to protect existing workers, the Fair Work Commission should use the powers it already has to grandfather current employees’ salary rates so that only new employees are covered by these new rates,” he writes.

Liberal senator Eric Abetz. Photo: Graham Denholm/ Getty Images.

“This approach would ensure that ‘no worker is worse off’ while allowing new opportunities for the unemployed and especially for young unemployed people.

“Grandfathering of the current penalty regime should be a part of the Fair Work Commission’s final decision – protecting existing workers, helping small business and providing opportunities for the unemployed. A win for all concerned and an end to this unnecessarily divisive issue.”

Since the ruling was handed down last week, Labor has been attacking the Turnbull government for not challenging the decision, despite Opposition leader Bill Shorten vowing he would respect the independent umpire’s ruling regardless of the outcome, having instigated the review of penalty rates when he was Labor’s employment minister.

This week, employment minister Michaelia Cash has contacted the Business Council of Australia seeking its support to fight the campaign by Labor and the unions against the decision to pare back Sunday and public holiday penalty rates.

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