Labor condemns Coalition moves to hit penalty rates

LABOR has hit back at backbench Liberal calls to cut penalty rates, arguing it exposed the internal pressure on Prime Minister Tony Abbott to "go after workers' pay".

Opposition employment spokesman Brendan O'Connor made the comments after Liberal Alex Hawke called on penalty rates to be cut.

Mr Hawke's call follows business groups pressing the government to take action on penalty rates to reduce youth unemployment, in arguments that again were renewed this week.

And despite wide-ranging proposed reforms to cut welfare benefits, the government has to date shied away from targeting penalty rates, although it has supported industry's calls in submissions to the Fair Work Commission.

Mr O'Connor said any move to cut penalty rates would be an "attack on 4.5 million Australians who work in industries where penalty rates apply". - APN NEWSDESK