Showdown over Sunday penalty rates begins


bomUnions and business groups will face off in the Federal Court today as a hearing begins on the Fair Work Commission’s decision to cut Sunday and public holiday penalty rates.

A full court of five judges will sit in Melbourne over the next three days to hear an appeal by unions against the commission’s decision.

United Voice national secretary Jo Schofield said the unions’ appeal had a strong legal argument.

“Firstly, we think the Fair Work Commission failed to consider the relative living standards and needs of the low-paid and they are required to under the act,” she said.

“We’ll also argue that penalty rates form an important part of the safety net for workers in the hospitality industry.”

Australian Hotels Association chief executive officer Stephen Ferguson said businesses, including the hospitality sector which he represents, would be able to generate more activity if the penalty reductions came into force.

He said the association was confident the commission’s decision would be upheld.