Barry Leddicoat

Majority of Australians agree with hospitality penalty rates

MORE than 80% of Australians believe restaurant and hospitality workers deserve the penalty rates they get for working late nights and weekends, a survey by Galaxy Research revealed on Monday.

Commissioned by hospitality and cleaners union United Voice, the research found 81% of those surveyed believed restaurant owners should be required to conform to minimum standards for workers' pay.

The Fair Work Commission is currently assessing an application by various hospitality industry employers to remove penalty rates for all work except public holidays and introduce a new pay rate of $15.96 an hour for all restaurant staff.

United Voice national secretary Louise Tarrant said the application to change the restaurant industry award was unjustified, unprecedented and out of step with Australian values.

"It is outrageous that any restaurant owner would expect their employees to receive a paltry $15.96 per hour regardless of their training, skill, experience, length of service or commitment," she said.

"It is difficult to believe that any such employer could look their staff or customers in the face.

"$15.96 per hour is Australia's minimum wage.

$15.6 per hour, or $606.40 per week, is a poverty level wage."

Ms Tarrant said the application could see the base wage for restaurant workers lowered to $15.69 an hour, regardless of whether the employee had extra skills or experience.

"This is a slap in the face for all restaurant workers because it reveals a profound lack of respect by restaurant owners for the people who make their businesses possible," she said.

The study also found 77% of those surveyed believed 50% loading - which gives experienced workers an extra $9-$10 an hour - was "about right"; while 20% thought it was too high.

Younger Australians, aged between 18-24 years old, overwhelmingly believed the 50% loading was fair, with only 12% of that age group believing it was too high.

More than 1000 people were surveyed by phone, with an even distribution across New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia.

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