Tens of thousands of Apprentices throughout Queensland could have their pay rate slashed by more than $160 a week if an employer association legal push is successful.
Master Builders, the Housing Industry Association and All Trades Queensland have lodged an application with the Federal Court to have Queensland Apprentices paid under the state award, not the federal award which currently applies to the vast majority of Apprentices throughout the country.
The application has been made in the aftermath of a Fair Work Commission ruling, which stated Queensland Apprentices must be paid at the federal award rate, rather than the state award of $8.93.
Although the employer associations have undertaken this legal action to continue paying their Apprentices under the state award, Electrical Trades Queensland and NT Apprentices Officer Scott Reichman said if the application was successful the rest of the states’ Apprentices paid under the higher federal award of $12.66 could see their pay rates slashed.
“In their headlong rush to protect their employer members, many thousands of Queensland Apprentices may unintentionally have their wages slashed as a consequence. The fall out of a ruling in this matter may mean thousands of apprentices are dragged back to the state award which would be devastating,” he said.
“Apprentices from a range of disciplines could see their weekly rate fall below the poverty line to just $340 a week on the state award.
“Queensland Apprentices work every bit as hard as apprentices in NSW or Victoria but these companies and associations want to pay them substantially less than they pay in those states.”
Mr Reichman said the legal action was misguided and unnecessary. And he called on the Federal Government to intervene, and ensure the decision of the independent umpire applied equally to all Apprentices nationwide.
“To us the decisions already handed down by Fair Work are clear,” he said.
“Employers should just get on with paying Queensland Apprentices the same as apprentices get paid in the rest of the country, not spend tens of thousands of dollars trying to keep our apprentices paid poverty rates.”
Apprentices can see how much they are owed by visiting www.etu.org.au/apprenticebackpay
For further information please contact: Scott Reichman 0437 184 399 or Dan Nancarrow 0448 633 858