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QNMU fights off raid on penalty rates in EB

Nurses and midwives have registered a major win against an employer eager to follow the Turnbull government’s enthusiasm for cutting workers’ wages.

Sonic HealthPlus had proposed a 25 per cent cut to nurses’ Sunday penalty rates in their new  enterprise agreement – just days after the Turnbull government made its call supporting cuts to penalty rates.

But the QNMU reported that a short but intense community campaign had forced Sonic HealthPlus to withdraw its proposed cuts.

The QNMU – which recently underwent a name change to the Queensland Nurses and Midwives’ Union – thanked the community for its support and spreading the message on the need to protect penalty rates.

A Facebook post noting the victory said “this is a big win and a testament to what we can achieve when we stand together! But it’s also a warning – there may be more attacks on our penalty rates in the future but let’s stand strong”.

Nurses working for Sonic Health Plus could have seen their award-aligned Sunday penalty rates cut from 75% to 50%, in what is expected to be worrying trend for Australian workers.

ACTU President – and a former nurse – Ged Kearney said: “It’s no coincidence that Sonic Health Plus has proposed these wage claims just a few days after Prime Minister Turnbull said he supported the penalty rate cuts.”

“This is a sign of the times; the Fair Work Commission decision to cut penalty rates has emboldened employers and no Australian worker is safe unless the Government steps in now.

“Just last month Sonic Healthcare, the parent company of Sonic Health Plus, announced a net profit of $197 million and revenue of $2.5 billion. Now it wants to cut the wages of its nursing staff.”