STAFF KEY TO SUCCESS: Mildura Working Man’s Club Chief Executive Officer, John Harlock, said the business will continue to pay its staff the original Sunday and public holiday rate despite cuts being implemented across the industry.

By Alexandra Treloar

Prominent Mildura businesses have vowed to keep paying employees now obsolete penalty rates despite landmark weekend pay cuts for several industries coming into force last week.

Under the cuts by the Fair Work Commission, workers in hospitality, retail, restaurant and pharmacy industries will have their Sunday and public holiday pay slashed over the next four years.

For hospitality workers, Sunday wages will be cut from 175 percent of their standard wage to 150 percent.

In retail, full-time and part-time staff will have their pay reduced from 200 percent to 150 percent, while the causal rate will go from 200 percent down to 175 percent.

For fast-food workers, Sunday pay for full-time and part-time employees will be cut from 150 percent to 125 percent, and casual rate will be cut from 175 percent to 150 percent.

Full time and part-time workers in the pharmacy industry will have their Sunday pay reduced from 200 percent to 150 percent, while the casual rate will be reduced from 200 percent to 175 percent.

Mildura Working Man’s Club employs 80 staff, and is one of several local businesses who have chosen not to make the cuts.

Club Chief Executive Officer, John Harlock, said that while the cuts would save the business a significant amount of money, especially on public holidays, keeping the best interest of the Club’s staff is the priority.

“We think there are serious social disruptions to our employees’ lives by requiring them to work on Sundays and public holidays, and we only think it’s fair to reward them for that,” he said.

“If you appreciate your employees you should compensate them, and the fact that our staff are being looked after encourages them to be attentive and productive.

“These are not highly paid positions in the first place, so there needs to be some incentive for working on those days.”

He said there would be extra benefits to being one of only a handful of businesses that have chosen not to make the cuts to wages.

“The benefits will be that we will become the preferred employer, and we’ll have a strong workforce,” Mr Harlock said.

My Chemist Warehouse Mildura owner, Eric Oguzkaya, said the franchise is also keeping the original rates, saying the cuts wouldn’t be fair to workers.

“We appreciate and value our staff, and if they are happy in their workplace they will be as productive as possible, so it works both ways,” he said.

Mr Oguzkaya said his three local stores, which employs 127 staff, would have saved thousands of dollars if the cuts were implemented.

“The numbers will hurt a bit, it’s a significant amount, but the environment and social feel of the workplace is important to employees, so it works out in the long run,” he said.

“People say that they plan to employ more staff with the cuts, but for us it wasn’t enough of a saving to put more staff on.”

Sunraysia Trades and Labour Council secretary, Arthur Edge, said he understood that some business needed to make the cuts, but encouraged those who could afford to keep the original weekend rates to do so.

“Under certain conditions you can understand why businesses would move to cut these rates, but it’s great to see places continue to pay the original rates, I applaud them for what they are doing,” he said.

“This shows that they value their employees, and that’s the biggest thing, it strengthens the relationship between employers and their staff and makes things a lot easier for everyone.”

STAFF KEY TO SUCCESS: Mildura Working Man’s Club Chief Executive Officer, John Harlock, said the business will continue to pay its staff the original Sunday and public holiday rate despite cuts being implemented across the industry.