‘How will we pay the bills?’

Nicole Boswell and Teneale Pumpa say they need penalty rates to make ends meet. Picture: JOHN RUSSELL
Nicole Boswell and Teneale Pumpa say they need penalty rates to make ends meet. Picture: JOHN RUSSELL

IT’S fairly simple maths for Lavington’s Nicole Boswell.

Take $170 a week from penalty rates out of her pay and it becomes hard to feed her five kids.

Then there’s the mortgage, electricity and schooling.

“You’re working unsociable hours, so you’re missing out on so many events,” the Lavington Coles worker said.

“You want to be compensated for those times that you don’t get to spend with your family.”

Just like Miss Boswell, Albury’s Teneale Pumpa is a shop steward — for her it’s looking out for her fellow workers at the retailer Target.

Mrs Pumpa, a mother of two boys, said the concern about penalty rates was shared by her workmates, regardless of union membership.

“The concern is they really just want to take penalty rates off us, so seven days a week from midnight to midnight is going to be one flat rate,” she said.

“That means hitting the people who are living on switch shifts, or are working later, to gain an extra little bit of money.

“Every dollar counts.”

They were among 20 union Shop Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association from the Albury area briefed yesterday on research about the economic impact of cutting penalty rates.

Miss Boswell said the extra money earned working unsociable hours allowed her to spend in her area.

“You help out the businesses around here,” she said.

“The area misses out if penalty rates go — that’s the flow-on effect.”

Mrs Pumpa said workers had to foresake seeing family “in the hope you can pay the mortgage and give them a place to live”.

“If I have to work at the weekend, the boys are home with their dad and I still miss out on that time with them,” she said.

“They’re at school five days a week so you don’t see them on those days.”

Association NSW secretary Gerard Dwyer said penalties were good for business by boosting ordinary people’s pay, increasing their disposable income and increasing economic activity.

“We understand just how important the retail industry is to rural economies,” he said.