Unions have taken their campaign in defence of penalty rates to Canberra, targeting regional MPs and crossbench senators in particular.
Armed with a recent report that highlights the importance of the retail and hospitality industries to rural employment, the unions hope to counter the anticipated recommendations of the Productivity Commission for a reduction of penalty rates.
The Productivity Commission has just submitted its final report on Australia's workplace system to the Turnbull government.
And while it may not be released until next year it is expected that it will call for Sunday penalty rates in hospitality, entertainment, restaurants and cafes to be brought into line with those payable on Saturday.
According to the McKell Foundation, that could cost rural workers between $175 million and $343 million a year in disposable income – a drop which would obviously have serious flow-on effects on the rural economy.
The McKell report estimates that the retail and hospitality industries account for about 18% of rural workers and that they are already earning less than those in urban area,
"Workers being singled out for cuts, such as those who serve us in restaurants and shops or who care for our elderly, are among the lowest paid in the economy," said ACTU President Ged Kearney.
"For them, penalty rates aren't extra pay ─ they help provide the basic income their families need just to get by."
Source: Workplace Express.