Today’s decision by the Fair Work Commission to slash penalty rates will hurt working students and increase the financial burden placed on them.

Students working in the hospitality, restaurant, fast food, retail and pharmacy industries will have their Sunday penalty rates cut by between 25% and 50%. Public holiday rates will also be cut by up to 50%.

This will have disastrous effects for student welfare and wellbeing, putting more students under financial pressure to make ends meet. Students are already being asked to pay more for their education and now they’re being asked to take a huge pay cut.

For many students, Sunday penalty rates make an enormous difference when it comes to paying rent, buying food, and affording public transport. As many students are earning award wages or are on the minimum wage, Sunday and public holiday penalty rates can mean the difference between living above or below the poverty line.

Students deserve to be treated fairly and to not be faced with the biggest pay cut in Australian history since the Great Depression. With a 2013 Universities Australia survey showing that two-thirds of Australian university students live below the poverty line, this decision could not come at a worse time.

This decision will hurt, hardworking students trying to make a living while they study. This is why UMSU will continue to advocate for students on this issue and convince our decision-makers that this pathway is wrong.

Yan Zhuang
UMSU President

If you need help in a crisis, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. For further information about depression contact beyondBlue on 1300 224 636 or talk to your GP, local health professional or someone you trust.