ACTU pushes for $50 minimum wage rise

SumoSalad-store-interior-workerUnions are pushing for a $50-a-week increase to the minimum wage, more than doubling their claim from last year.

The Australian Council of Trade Unions will make a submission to the Fair Work Commission arguing for the substantial boost for the lowest paid workers.

ACTU secretary Sally McManus argues the rise is necessary, noting many people on the minimum wage work in retail and hospitality.

“These are exactly the same people who are facing a penalty rates pay cut on the 1st of July as well,” she told ABC radio.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said the commission needed to give careful consideration to the economic impact of any wage increase.

“If you increase the minimum wages further when we already have one of the highest minimum wages in the world, without taking steps to improve the profitability of business, you will drive more people into the unemployment queues,” Senator Cormann told ABC TV.

Employer groups have also warned against an excessive increase, arguing now is not the time to take risks with the minimum wage.

Australian Retailers Association executive director Russell Zimmerman said the proposed increase fails to take into account the circumstances of small business and is well above inflation.

“It’s over the top…way too high of a claim,” he said.

“It doesn’t take into account the circumstances of small businesses, or the conditions in the retail sector at the moment.”

Zimmerman said that the ARA’s forthcoming submission to the commission will recommend a “modest” increase in the minimum wage, in line with inflation.

Australian Industry Group’s submission to Fair Work calls for a 1.8 per cent raise, the equivalent of $12.50 extra a week, while the ACTU’s proposal amounts to a 7.2 per cent hike.

Ai Group chief executive Innes Willox said a dramatic increase would reduce the job security of low paid workers and lower employment opportunities for the unemployed and underemployed.

He said it was essential the Fair Work Commission opted for a more modest increase than last year.

“The 3.3 per cent minimum wage increase awarded by the panel last year was exceptionally high and out of step with economic factors,” Mr Willox said.

Federal Labor will push for a higher minimum wage, though they are yet to decide on a figure.

The opposition’s finance spokesman Jim Chalmers said their submission would not be made in conjunction with the ACTU, but backed the tone of the union push.

“They’ve got a series of very good arguments, as they generally do, about wage justice in this country,” Mr Chalmers told ABC TV.

Unions will rally in Melbourne on Tuesday in support of the ACTU’s push which is a major rise from last year’s claim of $22 a week.

Once the commission has reached its decision, the changes will come into force on July 1.

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  1. Jackson posted on March 13, 2018

    There should be no increase! Its already too high! How will small and medium retail businesses survive?

    • Jim posted on March 13, 2018

      Get a life mate these are the lowest paid people in the country they need some form of increase to a the very least keep up with inflation, are you so dumb to think that inflation does not effect the lowest paid people as much as it does others ???? Really if you are going to comment on issues like this you really need to find some grey matter first ! By the way I am an employer & not a union lover but aware of the necessity of evils at times poorer members of our society need to be protected just as much as you do

      • Justin posted on March 19, 2018

        Jim workers are already protected so much in the country, what more protection do they want?, I agree Jackson may not have thought his comment through but he is right, the more you increase wages the more you will see small and medium retail business hit the wall and big retailers will survive by having self serve checkouts and knowing employment laws so they keep employee entitlements to a minimum.

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