Well they certainly put up a fight. But the unions' bid to reverse the Fair Work Commission's decision to reduce penalty rates in the hospitality, fast food, and retail industries crashed and burned in the Federal Court today.
A little background for those who may have forgotten. Back in February, as part of its routine review of modern awards, the Fair Work Commission decided to reduce penalty rates for hospitality, fast food and retail workers off the back of ongoing complaints from employers that it's just too bloody expensive to run a business on weekends. Sunday penalty rates for full-time hospitality and fast food workers have been reduced by 25%, while retail workers have been hit with a 50% decrease (penalty rates for casuals were also reduced for retail and fast food employees, but not for hospitality workers).
To ease the blow to employees, the decrease is being gradually phased in over a number of years and kicked off on 1 July of this year.
Public holiday penalty rates were also reduced by 25% across the three industries but that took effect in a single blow on 1 July 2017.
Declaring that the Fair Work Commission had turned its back on hard working people, unions took the matter to the Federal Court facing the unenviable task of arguing the Commission "misconceived" its duty in reviewing modern awards.
It went as well as expected with the Federal Court rejecting the unions' case, finding that the Fair Work Commission did a pretty bang up job in its careful consideration of penalty rates.
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