Pubs don’t want to cut penalties

NORTH East hotels are unlikely to pursue the axing of staff penalty rates as a way to cut costs, an industry group says.

Australian Hotels Association Victorian chief executive Brian Kearney said the cost of wages was an issue for all publicans.

“But at the same time we want excellent service through our staff,” he said.

“It’s a balance that’s got to be settled.

“It’s not about reducing staff costs to the bone because if you do that you won’t get good staff.

“It’s about working through what that balance might look like.”

Mr Kearney was in Yackandandah yesterday for a meeting with publicans from across the region.

He said the meeting was about letting people know “what was cooking around the traps”.

“All people in pubs are subject to the issues of cost pressures these days,” he said.

“Margins are always a topic and we are always talking about ways you can do business but do it a bit cheaper on the cost side.”

Mr Kearney said that meant publicans were always looking at opportunities to do things better.

“The whole issue of penalty rates and those matters — we’re always interested in getting feedback from local publicans about what their feeling is about what the wage cost situation is.”

Mr Kearney’s comments come as the federal government finalises a widespread review of workplace laws.

Employment Minister Eric Abetz is expected to introduce new laws to Federal Parliament this week allowing workers to trade-off conditions such as penalty rates in return for more flexible hours to suit family demands.

He said late last week that it would be the employees’ prerogative — not employers — to make such a trade-off.

The event at The Yackandandah Hotel was part of the association’s ongoing regional “pubs, pots and profits” program.

“The fact is that in Victoria we have more pubs in regional areas than there are in central business district metropolitan areas,” Mr Kearney said.

“Yackandandah is just a great spot to get all the local publicans together.”

He said the association valued strong membership in the region.

He said city people who visited the bush quite rightly expected they should be able to drop into a pub “and get a good meal and a nice beverage”.

About 25 publicans attended yesterday, along with corporate partners such as Carlton and United Breweries.

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