Will weekends ever be the same ?

The effect of penalty rate cuts in Parramatta alone.

They say all good things come to an end…but do they have to? Imagine having something you hold so dearly taken away from you unnecessarily, and not much could be done to stop it from happening. The topic of penalty rate cuts has sparked huge interest this year from the public, after the Fair Work Commission announced that some cuts would be enforced in July 2017. But just how fair is it? My question is, are they understanding the full repercussions of this decision? Whether you work in the retail, hospitality or pharmacy industry, or enjoy a Sunday out with friends/family, the truth of the matter is, it affects the community as a whole.

Let’s take a closer look in reference to the city of Parramatta…

Source: Parramatta City Council

The city of Parramatta is a precinct for social gatherings and outings. It is home to over 180 cafe’s and restaurants and a Westfield which holds around 498 stores. The city itself is designed in a way that provokes a sense of community. Everything is in walking distance to eachother, and it is quite simple to interact and socialise with others. There is no doubt that Parramatta is a popular weekend location chosen by many. According to Scentre Group, Westfield calculated a total of 3,300,000 annual visits. There are various streets within Parramatta which consist of a number of popular places to visit. Church/Eat Street is a notorious location which attracts many people with a wide selection of quality eateries, retail stores and pubs to consider.

Now let’s paint a picture..

Source: Readers Digest

The aroma of freshly ground coffee consumes the air, accompanied by the smell of delicious foods nearby. The clinking of knives and forks, sounds of joy and laughter and the odd sound of a super done up car roaring down the street.. Church St Parramatta. Whilst sitting down with friends and sharing a nice meal, I think to myself… can Sundays get any better than this? I look around and see restaurants and cafe’s open everywhere, people walking by and others hopefully searching for that rare parking spot. It’s safe to say my friends and I aren’t the only ones that enjoy a Sunday outing to grab a bite and/or browse and shop through Westfield.

I then imagine what I would be seeing if penalty rate cuts came into play..

Source: giphy.com

There is no doubt that the introduction of penalty rates would result in the demise of our favourite retail stores, cafe’s and eateries where we like spend our weekends. Instantly, that strong sense of community appears to be slipping through our fingers. It’s absurd to think that we may no longer spend our Sundays how we traditionally would spend them. Not only Parramatta, but all communities in Australia will in some way, shape or form suffer socially from these cuts. It is crucial to emphasise the social aspect of this decision, as it will limit the places where individuals and groups choose to socialise, and who knows your favourite hang out spot may no longer exist.

Now let’s take a look at the other side of the story… the workers.

Source: Twitter

As penalty rate cuts come into effect from July 2017, workers can expect to see a reduction in their weekly wages. In Parramatta alone, there are approximately over 10,000 retail workers with food and other store based retailing making up a large portion of the figure. According to the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), the decision to cut penalty rates could cost workers up to $6000 a year. This substantial amount places low paid workers under a great deal of stress. They’ll now have to reconsider how to keep up with living expenses such as groceries, rent, water, electricity and transport. According to ABC News, it was identified that most retail workers stay within the retail industry due to paid incentives through penalty rates as concluded in the interview with Chase Scales a 22 year old Gym Manager. How will employers retain their stuff without these financial incentives?Cutting these penalty rates could mean that people may leave the retail industry in hope to find new opportunities. As a result, there is the potential that a large percentage of people may be unemployed for some time whilst searching for another job, therefore struggling even further.

Having first hand experience within the retail industry, I myself can directly relate to the arising concerns retail workers are having as a result of this decision. For myself, working Sunday’s meant that I had extra cash to either save or spend. The extra 80 or so dollars for that week gave me more financial freedom. Being a student and living at home, having that extra bit of cash meant I could pay for my petrol and food, therefore not heavily relying on my parents. If I still happened to be working in the retail industry, I would most likely be looking elsewhere for employment after hearing about penalty rate cuts, and I imagine others would too. Which kind of makes you wonder about the future of the retail industry. However, I also often wonder how an individual who lives on their own who has multiple financial responsibilities would cope from the impacts of the penalty rate cuts.

Well let’s find out…

Your weekly wages come in at $650 compared to your normal $730 wage. Pay your bills and work out how much you would have left…

Bills for the week

Rent = $410

Groceries = $60

Fuel = $50

Electricity = $80

Water = $48

How much are you left with? — Put’s it into perspective doesn’t it.

Source: Channel 7 News
“What this Government doesn’t understand is that penalty rates aren’t a luxury… it’s a working right” — Trent Hunter, Retail Worker.

Although penalty rate cuts are slowly coming into effect as of July 2017, it shouldn’t stop workers from voicing their opinions. It is crucial for workers within the retail industry and members of the community to stick together and fight against this decision. In regards to Parramatta, it would be a shame for a city with increasing potential and history to become neglected due the repercussions of cutting penalty rates. We can’t let this decision negatively impact our lives both socially and financially. After all, we are ALL in some way affected from the decision.