A former Labor government minister and head of the ACTU has backed changes in an area once considered sacrosanct – Sunday penalty rates for workers in the retail and hospitality sectors.
Martin Ferguson, now chairman of Tourism Accommodation Australia, says his sector needs an industrial framework suited to the 21st century.
“Not to society as it was 50 years ago, when weekends were sacrosanct and Sunday was a day of rest, when most shops and restaurants were shut,” he said in a statement.
In a draft report on Australia’s workplace relations framework, the Productivity Commission recommended Sunday penalty rates be the same as those paid on Saturday.
It said existing penalty rates should be retained for workers in essential services such as nursing and policing.
Labor and the unions have vowed to fight any changes to penalty rate payments.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott said he wanted to see a sensible debate.
“This government will make no changes to workplace relations in this term of parliament that are inconsistent with the commitments we took to the election,” he said.