SDA, the trade union representing shop and warehouse workers, has launched an advertising campaign calling on the government to boost the minimum wage on July 1.
Seizing on a quote from Prime Minister Scott Morrison that the Australian economy is “the envy of the world” SDA national secretary Gerard Dwyer said retail staff who worked tirelessly during the Covid-19 crisis deserved “a fair pay rise”.
The union has launched a website – essentialpayrise.com.au – featuring a petition calling on the government to boost the minimum wage on July 1. The union aims to rally consumer sentiment as the Fair Work Commission conducts its annual wage review.
Dwyer quoted treasurer Josh Frydenberg who said last week that during the last three quarters, the Australian economy has grown by 8.7 per cent, “the strongest growth Australia has seen since 1968”.
“Last year, the Fair Work Commission used what it claimed was the most authoritative economic data available – the RBA May statement of monetary policy – to justify a seven-month freeze in what was, in any event, a token pay rise,” said Dwyer. “Relying on this official data, which proved grievously pessimistic with the economy performing far better than forecast, inflicted a real wage cut on Australia’s lowest-paid workers who had risked their health and safety to serve the community on the frontline throughout the worst of the pandemic.”
The country has so far survived the pandemic with an unemployment rate of 6.6 per cent – well under the 9 per cent predicted last December – and 3.2 per cent economic growth in the year to December, contrasting with a negative 6 per cent prediction by the Reserve Bank.
“If it was good enough for the Fair Work Commission to use that data to justify last year’s decision it has no option but to rely on Australia’s envious economic performance to award a fair and reasonable increase in the minimum wage this time round,” said Dwyer.
“The Morrison government and the Commission cannot have it both ways – to employ dodgy data to force unjustified sacrifice on the lowest paid last year and now to impose another real wage cut as the rest of the community benefits from Australia’s enviable economic performance.”