WEEKEND penalty rates put me through university.
Even more than 20 years ago, when I did my undergrad in Brisbane, Austudy was a joke and an extra income was essential if one wanted a diet more varied than instant noodles.
So I worked as a cleaner at the Myer Centre. Every uni break I would work five days, but during semester, to tackle the uni workload, I would restrict myself (through the good graces of a sympathetic manager) to working Friday nights, Saturdays, and Sundays.
Earning time-and-a-half on Saturdays and double time on Sundays meant these limited hours, combined with the scraps I received through Austudy, meant I could live modestly well, for a student at least, and even to stash a few hundred dollars away for emergencies.
The work was often awful (ladies, I've what you do to public toilets and it still makes me shudder), but it also taught me more about working in a team than uni was able to, kept me grounded in the face of the vagaries of academia, and, economically meant, thanks to those Sunday shifts, I got to finish my degree.
No one likes working Sundays. But the financial boost from Sunday penalty rates makes a big difference in the lives of people who work just as hard as any rich executive but do so for a much smaller rate of pay.
For me, it meant finishing university. For others it might cover their mortgage.
Reducing those penalty rates mean the workers who struggle most to get from week to week will have to struggle a bit more.
It hardly seems fair.
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