Cut pay rate, says chamber

WAGGA Business Chamber president Julian McLaren has supported a move to cut penalty rates for hospitality workers, saying small business owners are “already struggling to make a profit”.

The support comes after a submission was made to Fair Work Australia by the NSW Business Chamber and Restaurant and Catering Australia to cut weekend penalty rates from the National Restaurant Industry Award.

Mr McLaren said although it was a tough call, measures needed to be taken to ensure continued growth and prosperity for small business owners.

“We need to ensure we are rewarding those employing juniors and casual staff and those who are keeping the business community vibrant,” he said.

“Wages are a huge overhead for business and there comes a point where you have to accept that getting paid in excess of $20 for cleaning dishes is just not economically viable.

“Business owners just can’t be the ones to cop everything.”

However, Charles Sturt University students and casual café workers Diana McLaren, Caitlin Downes and Chris Luck disagreed, saying penalty rates were often the only thing that ensured the expenses of student life were affordable.

“Twenty dollars is big deal to students – who are most of the casual workers in the hospitality industry – sometimes it’s the difference between being able to afford food for the week,” acting student and part-time waitress Diana said.

“I have to work all summer to support myself while I’m studying and the penalty rates make up a big part of those savings.

“It doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it will affect those people that have to budget their money the most.”

Cache café owner Renee Chambeyron conceded a change in the award would help small business owners, but said she would be concerned about employee reaction.

“Anything like this needs to be treated very carefully,” she said.

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