Life’s a trade-off

John HartThe mood in Canberra changed overnight, when the PM put an ultimatum to the senate on the ABCC.

The construction watchdog legislation is not the only battleground between unions and employers. More targeted at our industry is the assault by the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) on casual work. This extension of the four-year review of ‘modern’ awards aims to convert casuals to part-timers after six months, add overtime provisions for casuals and extend the minimum engagement hours for casual staff. All of these would be incredibly damaging and costly for the industry.

What is most troubling of all is that casual workers don’t want these changes either. In a campaign called ‘Life’s a Trade Off,’ the Association is asking whether staff prefer ‘cash’ or ‘benefits’. Overwhelmingly, staff are saying they want cash.

This raises the question of why the unions are fighting for something that staff don’t want. Aren’t the unions representatives of the staff? The answer is not really, particularly in our industry where union penetration overall is around two per cent and casual workers would round up to one per cent!

Restaurant & Catering is fighting casual conversion, weekend penalty rates, evening penalties and the Restaurant Industry Award itself in the Fair Work Commission. The legal fees for counsel are a huge load for the Association. Please visit to support the campaign.

John Hart

CEO, Restaurant & Catering

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