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Penalty Pay Cuts A ‘Kick In The Guts’ For Hospitality Workers

The changes kicked off on July 1

Penalty Pay Cuts A ‘Kick In The Guts’ For Hospitality Workers

Image: Pexels

Slashing Sunday and public holiday penalty rates is a massive "kick in the guts" to some disgruntled hospitality workers, as unions today kicked off court action to reverse the move.

Hospitality union United Voice have challenged the Fair Work Commission's penalty rates cuts with a brief hearing in the Federal Court, AAP reports.

It comes as the commission decided to drop Sunday rates earlier this year by five percentage points for workers in the fast food, hospitality, retail and pharmacy sectors.

With changes kicking off last week on July 1, they found existing penalty rates didn't "achieve the modern awards objective", saying they overcompensated employees for Sunday work.

Yet pub worker John Keily told reporters the change was an "appalling" decision, forcing him to now consider early retirement while impacting his ability to pay his utility bills.

"Federal parliamentarians get a pay rise and rich people get their marginal tax cut and what do we get? A kick in the guts," Mr Keily said.

"That's a lot of money to me."

Mr Keily sets to lose $500 a year but this would increase to $2300 once the changes are fully rolled out.

'Do the right thing by their weekend workers'

United Voice Victorian branch secretary Jess Walsh says the cuts will hit the lowest paid workers the most.

"We are also calling on employers to do the right thing by their weekend workers to respect the contribution they make and maintain penalty rates," she said outside court.

The ACTU have also backed the appeal, with president Ged Kearney arguing if the law doesn't protect the lowest paid workers then the law was broken.

The first cut will be five percentage points, with more cuts in 2018 and 2019 for fast food and hospitality workers.

Retail and pharmacy workers will have their cuts phased in until 2020. The next hearing is scheduled for September 18.