Australian tradies and labourers could be set for a HUGE hit to the pocket

Tradies could see an end to lucrative weekend penalty rates and no paid overtime in a huge overhaul to 'restrictive' rules accused of crippling the building sector.

Construction companies are pushing for an end to some industry award regulations, which they say are making it difficult for the sector to recover from the COVID-19 shutdown. 

But unions are blocking the move, accusing employers of exploiting the pandemic to take away workers' rights and stripped their earnings.

It includes a call to scrap Saturday penalty rates, which sees workers earn at least 150 per cent of their usual salary if made to work on a weekend.

Casual shifts could also be cut down to as little as two hours, with employers warning 30 per cent of businesses could be shut down in the next 12 months. 

A worker is seen in Sydney on a road-side construction site (pictured) with many affected by social distancing changes - causing a delay in some projects getting finished

A worker is seen in Sydney on a road-side construction site (pictured) with many affected by social distancing changes - causing a delay in some projects getting finished

Workers could even be asked to take annual leave if the business became quiet, with employers allowed to reduce their hours to zero if affected by government restrictions. 

Social distancing, needed to slow the spread of the deadly respiratory infection, means slower work and huge delays to projects.  

In a plea to the Fair Work Commission, a group of building firms have sought a series of changes to awards, saying they are needed to overcome the impact changes to the sector brought on by coronavirus. 

Changes proposed by Master Builders Australia, the Australian Industry Group and the Housing Industry Association include a change to ordinary working hours, according to The Australian. 

A normal week would be 38 hours between 6am and 7pm on Monday to Friday and 6am and 2pm on Saturday. 

Tradesman (pictured in a Melbourne pub on June 1)  could see an end to costly weekend penalty rates

Tradesman (pictured in a Melbourne pub on June 1)  could see an end to costly weekend penalty rates

Casual shift minimums would be reduced from four hours to just two, with time off instead of paid overtime.

Annual leave could be directed by bosses, and hours could be reduced if work dries up - even to zero.  

The groups claimed 77,000 constructions workers had lost their jobs or been stood down during the pandemic.

A survey suggested that one-third of construction businesses could be forced to close in the next 12 months if the outlook didn't improve.  

'The risk of inaction is that another one of Australia’s key industries ends up in freefall, well after the health crisis is over,' the submission read. 

Kangaroos star and plumber Jasmine Garner (pictured) is seen working on April 21 at the Melbourne Hockey Centre site

Kangaroos star and plumber Jasmine Garner (pictured) is seen working on April 21 at the Melbourne Hockey Centre site

WHAT CHANGES DO BUILDING FIRMS WANT? 

Under changes proposed to the Fair Work Commission, tradesman could see:

- Hours reduced to zero

- End to Saturday penalty rates

- No paid overtime

-  Two-hour casual shifts

- Directed annual leave 

Advertisement

But powerful unions accused building firms of exploiting the pandemic to 'attack' workers' rights. 

'Construction workers have co-operated with employers to keep the industry working while other industries shut down,' CFMEU construction division national secretary Dave Noonan said.  

'But they won’t cop the pandemic being used to attack wages and conditions. 

'That’s just opportunism.' 

sonos sonos One (Gen 2) - Voice Controlled Smart Speaker with

read more from dailymail.....

Get the latest news delivered to your inbox

Follow us on social media networks

NEXT BLM: UK military banned from 'taking the knee' as 'too political'