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Penalty Rates. A Loss Worth Writing Into Life

So there it is, the decision has finally come down and the old white men have spoken in hushed tones to other old white men and have since decided that working weekends is in no way shape or form different to working Monday – Friday. That working late nights is just as easy as working through rush hour and that young people are just meant to spend our days serving overpriced drinks, to those who are lucky enough to afford them, and swallow the decision with grace and dignity. Newsflash? Not. Going. To. Happen.

Have you realised just how out of touch the people making the decisions clearly are, from those who the decision actually impacts? It’s all well and good, to sit around a round table and debate the lives of others, only to return home at the end of a Friday evening, with the assurance of not returning to work until Monday morning. Oh what a life they do lead. I wonder just how satisfying it was, for them to rip apart the livelihood of the many. Did they make their final decision as they clicked their fingers at the waitress who works three jobs to make ends meet, purely because she is paying through the nose to a landlord who owns several properties? (Ps we love it when you click and or whistle at us to get our attention, it’s such a wonderful reminder of our own self worth and the way we are seen by the societal masses). *sarcasm*

What I really don’t get or understand, is whilst the same people are all indeed enjoying their time off and celebrating their weekend, what are we who work in the hospitality/retail industry meant to do? Do they honestly think we thoroughly enjoy the prospect of working whilst everyone else is having a weekend? Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy my job, I enjoy working in hospitality, and I am well aware that it means working Thursday – Sunday. But those penalty rates are more than a mere  token of compensation. What people don’t realise, is the extra money earned by hospitality and retail workers over Saturday and Sunday help keep our heads above water. Most of us rely on that money to do just that little bit more with our lives than simply pay bills and die. Things like, I dunno, savings, leaving the house on our days off, and eating something more than tuna and rice.

Now that the decision has in fact been handed down, now comes the great divide and debate. Everyone from small business owners to the CEO’s of big corporations will now have to decide if/when they will personally pass on the wage cuts across the board. Big business in particular will surely have to take into account the clientele they service before so haphazardly ripping the rug of livelihood out from under their employees. Although personally, I won’t be able to afford to do anything but boycott the businesses who do decided to slash penalty rates because hey… I won’t be able to afford to shop there anyway.

And please, to the person reading this who is thinking; “if you don’t like working weekends get a job that doesn’t” or… “maybe you should have gone to Uni if you didn’t want to work in hospitality,” or my all time personal favourite “why don’t you just suck it up”. Close your eyes and picture me yelling every single expletive you can think of, because I honestly have no time for you and your entitled, elitist bullshit. I’m not going to waste my time on justifying my line of work to you, or to anyone else. But I will say this. How would you feel if you were to lose the percentage equivalent of penalty rates from your wage, purely because someone else decided it was ‘the right thing to do’? Would you be able to afford all of the things that you need to keep yourself afloat? It’s impossible to hate close up, so move in, gain some empathy and insight, and wise up. And the next baby boomer that turns to me and says the reason I’m locked out of the housing market is because I ‘indulge’ in too much smashed avocado brace yourself, because I am oh so done holding back on this.

Bottom line? The world and society in which we live not only needs hospitality and retail workers, but actually relies on us. So before you judge us for whinging at the prospect of losing our penalty rates, why don’t you take a second to think about just how much we are driven by consumerism and capitalism. I mean… lets be real here, how ever will you be able to show off the new and exciting thing you just bought, to prove just how new and exciting you are, if we are not there to sell it to you? Hows that for #blessed?

Written by Laura Kebby

I write words about talented people doing talented things, and translate chatter by putting pen to paper.

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