Save Our Weekends

(Save Our Weekend Campaign, Picture: SDA)

By Nikki Bates

On Tuesday 21st February, the Fair Work Commission announced cuts to penalty rates for Sundays, and public holidays for workers in the hospitality, fast food, pharmacy and retail industry.

Since the cuts came into effect as of the first of July, many university students are struggling with the on going costs of living away from home more than ever.

Shine Lawyers Workplace law Principle Sarah Lock says the ones mainly affected by the cuts casual employees, particularly students who are trying to put themselves through university with minimal government assistance or relying on their families to help.

Research shows that cutting penalty rates will hit young Australians the hardest. A third of Australians rely on Sunday shifts as part of their wage, while 40% of young people are relying on penalty rates to survive.

The Australian Chamber of Commerce has launched a nation wide campaign to help protect and save weekend and public holiday penalty rate cuts.

With over 13,000 followers on Facebook and 20,000 volunteers, the Save Our Weekend campaign is highly favourable with the residents of the Central West Region.

Dubbo volunteer, Charlie, says the campaign has kicked off with a hit, securing over 10,000 signatures via an online petition.

“Well we knew we would be able to gather a lot of sympathetic support, and loads of support from passionate shift workers across Australia, knowing this we tried to create a large digital foot print to gather some momentum” said Charlie.

“We did this by sharing our message through any social media network we could find, for example, we tried to access as many large-scale Facebook groups as possible”.

(Save Our Weekend Volunteers, Picture: Brenden Francis)

“Stalls are also set up in shopping centres across Australia, with the help of our 20,000 volunteer army and we’ve also been letter boxing, visiting work places, making telephone calls and using local TV and Radio stations to voice our campaign” said Charlie.

By having rates cut on Sundays, young people will have to work at least 1 hour to 3 hours extra to make up for lost wages.

Ultimately young people are at the forefront of this reform and are at risk of losing out by changes to minimum entitlements.