Senate passes bill to save penalty rates

The Senate has passed Labor's private bill to protect Sunday penalty rates for hospitality and retail workers.

Labor, Greens and the crossbench have joined forces in a bid to protect Sunday penalty rates, with legislation clearing the Senate.

Labor's private bill to stop the Fair Work Commission's decision to cut the pay of hospitality and retail workers from being implemented passed the upper house on Thursday. It came after crossbenchers including One Nation, Derryn Hinch and the Nick Xenophon Team backflipped on their original positions.

The bill now heads to the lower house where it's likely to be defeated, given the coalition holds a slim majority.

The bill, co-sponsored by the Greens and crossbench senator Jacqui Lambie, ensures modern awards can't be varied to cut penalty rates or the hours to which penalty rates apply if the change results in a reduction to a worker's take-home pay.

Labor's Don Farrell described the Fair Work decision to slash penalty rates as "cold and heartless".

Greens senator Scott Ludlam said coalition senators speaking in favour of the cuts had likely never worked in jobs where penalty rates determined whether they could pay their rent.

"Every person who has spoken on this bill this morning is earning something in the realm of $200,000 a year," he told parliament.

"Women are the majority of accommodation, food service and retail workers - not a lot of women have spoken from the Tory benches this morning, it's all been blokes."

Source AAP

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