United Voice Queensland launched a new initiative to organise hospitality workers in Brisbane on 5 December. Hospitality United aims to involve people working in hospitality in the fight to defend penalty rates.

“Never has it been so important for hospitality workers to be united”, James Gartry, an organiser for Hospitality United, said at the event. “Hospo workers could lose up to $100 a week from Sunday penalty rates, which is a pay cut we can’t take and don’t deserve.”

Of the 150 attendees, more than a dozen hospitality workers joined the union on the night. An attempt to organise hospitality workers is a positive step in the campaign to defend penalty rates. ABS data show that only 5 percent of people working in accommodation and food services are union members. This explains why bosses and the Liberal government feel confident to attack their conditions.  

While the people who work in restaurants, bars and clubs are among the lowest paid in the country, it is estimated that business owners in the industry saved $112 million last year after a Fair Work Commission decision reduced Sunday casual loadings in the sector. Hospitality bosses are clearly hungry for the bolstered profits they will receive if Sunday penalty rates are abolished completely. Only strong unions that organise hospitality workers to stand up for themselves can get in the way of this greed.