The Australian Workers' Union, acting on behalf of Hair Stylists Australia, is fighting back against a coordinated push from employers to trim the Sunday penalty rates of hairdressers by 50 per cent.
The AWU established Hair Stylists Australia last year to represent the interests of the lowest paid trade in Australia: hairdressing.
The Australian Industry Group, operating on behalf of Hair and Beauty Australia, has lodged a submission to the Fair Work Commission arguing penalty rates for hairdressing should be cut in light of the cuts experienced by retail and hospitality workers.
However, the AWU, in conjunction with the SDA, has now lodged a countering submission to the Commission arguing the employers' rationale is sexist and wrong.
"Hairdressing is a trade like any other. It is simply incorrect to line it up against unskilled work," said Daniel Walton, National Secretary of the AWU.
"Hairdressers train for as long as other trades to get their certificate. The only difference is they're predominantly women, predominately young, and have traditionally not had a union to represent their interests.
"Hairdressers should be compared to other trades like plumbing, bricklaying, and carpentry — none of which are facing a push for pay rates to be cut.
"We are facing a wage crisis in this country and the inequality gap is growing by the month. Working people are crying out for a pay rise, and yet here we see greedy employers going after the lowest paid trade in the country.
"It is a disgrace that employers have banded together to try and snatch away a big chunk of the modest take-home pay that hairdressers have.
"Hairdressers now have industrial strength and we will fight this as hard as we can."