"As students, penalty rates can be your main sources of income,” Susie Elliott, a member of the Retail and Fast Food Workers Union (RAFFWU), told a "Save our penalty rates: Hands off our pay," rally in Pitt Street Mall on April 2.
“Often, you can't work during the week because of classes, and you'd rather be doing something else on a Sunday, but you need the money to buy food. That's why we need penalty rates. This system should be working for the people, not the big corporations."
The rally was called to protest the decision of the Fair Work Commission (FWC) to slash Sunday and public holiday pay for up to 700,000 low-paid workers in retail, hospitality, fast food and pharmacies.
A young worker in pharmacy, Thomas, told the crowd: "This new attack on penalty rates is part of a broader attack on workers' rights under the Coalition government. We need to organise and fight back. We need our unions to mobilise and unite to oppose this attack. An injury to one is an injury to all!"
Peter, an organiser with the Professional Pharmacists Union, said: "Pharmacists are an essential part of the health system. And despite their high qualifications, they are the lowest paid health workers.
"Pharmacy owners seek to cut the pay of these already low-paid workers. We need to take the fight up to these businesses. But the battle will not be won in the end in the courts. It will be won in struggle, by workers standing shoulder to shoulder in solidarity."
Greens MP David Shoebridge said: "We're meeting on a Sunday, with people working in shops around us losing important pay and rights. We need to fight for our weekend, which belongs to the people, not big business and the Liberal Party.
"While penalty rates are being cut, business-owners have just been given $25 billion in reduced tax. We have to build this campaign to defend penalty rates out there in the general community."
Michael Thompson from the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) added: "It's a lie that Sunday is just another work-day. Federal parliamentarians just voted not to work on a Sunday.
"This is a class attack, part of the Liberals' attack on working people. It will hurt first of all those least able to fight back.
"We need to step up our campaign, by urging everyone to join their union, and become part of the struggle. We need to broaden our campaign and take it out into the general community."
To find out more about the campaign, visit: www.facebook.com/SaveOurPenaltyRates.