Hair Stylists Australia, a new union representing hairdressers, have taken their message to the streets outside the Fair Work Commission today, as the case to have their penalty rates cut began.
Other workers including nurses, firefighters, and tradies came to support their fellow union members outside the Fair Work Commission and were treated to haircuts as a token of appreciation (all proceeds will be donated to charity.)
Hair Stylists Australia, the national hairdressers union backed by the Australian Workers' Union, is fighting the Hair and Beauty Australia Industry to cut Sunday rates for hairdressers from $45.39/hour to $34.05/hour.
"Hair stylists are already the lowest paid tradies in Australia," said HSA spokesperson Vanessa Watt.
"These women and men have a tough and physical job. Their day is spent on their feet dealing with potentially noxious chemicals. They are frequently the victims of wage theft. And now the bosses want to slash their already modest pay. It's disgraceful.
The Haircuts not Pay Cuts campaign is relevant to all industries, the National Secretary of the AWU Daniel Walton noted.
"Everyone thinks it won't happen to me," said Mr Walton.
"No one thought they were going to lose penalty rates in retail hospitality many years ago, but now they're gone. Now they're coming for hairdressers.
"Everyone who works on the weekend is in the crosshairs. We have to hold the line here or we are going to see penalty rates slashed across the board."
Mr Walton said it was heartening to see the rest of the union movement backing hairdressers.
"This is a female-dominated industry that has been underpaid, exploited and overlooked for far too long," Mr Walton said.
"This is an industry rife with workers getting bullied, harassed and stolen from. They are often not given breaks, and they are not provided with safe working conditions.
"What HSA is trying to do is empower workers in this female-dominated sector to come together and stand up for their rights."