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ACTU pushes for $26 a week minimum wage increase

  • March 29 2021
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ACTU pushes for $26 a week minimum wage increase

By Cameron Micallef
March 29 2021

The unions have called for a $26 a week raise to the minimum wage in Australia, warning that Australia’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic is subject to a pay increase.

minimum wage increase

ACTU pushes for $26 a week minimum wage increase

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  • March 29 2021
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The unions have called for a $26 a week raise to the minimum wage in Australia, warning that Australia’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic is subject to a pay increase.

minimum wage increase

The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) put forward a submission to the Fair Work Commission on Friday during its annual minimum wage review. 

The trade unions want a 3.5 per cent rise in minimum wage and awards for a full-time worker, which amounts to $26.38 a week.

They highlighted that last year’s very low increase of just 1.75 per cent – delayed at least three months for 75 per cent of recipients – means that we have fallen behind other countries in trying to establish a living wage at 60 per cent of median income.

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ACTU secretary Sally McManus said that if wages don’t increase, it will threaten the entire economic recovery as money in the hands of workers creates sustainable economic growth and not just bigger businesses. 

“If it is a V-shaped recovery for profits, it needs to be for wages as well. Profits rose 8.9 per cent through 2020, and the Reserve Bank says wages growth should be above 3 per cent,” Ms McManus said. 

“A 3.5 per cent increase in the minimum wage will flow through to one in five workers – 2.3 million people, 61 per cent of whom are women. Almost half of all casual employees rely on the annual minimum wage outcome for any pay rise.”

ACTU pointed out that the Reserve Bank has repeatedly made clear that wage growth is too low and this is a brake on economic growth. The recovery from the pandemic has so far increased profits but not wages, and labour’s share of GDP has fallen to record lows.

Even in the absence of another major shock, Mr Lowe conceded “it is a long way back to seeing wage increases consistent with the inflation target”.

“The point I want to emphasise is that for inflation to be sustainably within the 2–3 per cent target range, wages growth needs to be materially higher than it is currently,” Mr Lowe said.

“The evidence strongly suggests that this will not occur quickly and that it will require a tight labour market to be sustained for some time.

“Predicting how long it will take is inherently difficult, so there is room for different views. But our judgement is that we are unlikely to see wages growth consistent with the inflation target before 2024,” he said.

ACTU pushes for $26 a week minimum wage increase
minimum wage increase
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About the author

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Cameron is a journalist for Momentum Media's nestegg and Smart Property Investment. He enjoys giving Aussies practical financial tips and tricks to help grow their wealth and achieve financial independence. As a self-confessed finance nerd, Cameron enjoys chatting with industry experts and commentators to leverage their insights to grow your portfolio.

About the author

author image
Cameron Micallef

Cameron is a journalist for Momentum Media's nestegg and Smart Property Investment. He enjoys giving Aussies practical financial tips and tricks to help grow their wealth and achieve financial independence. As a self-confessed finance nerd, Cameron enjoys chatting with industry experts and commentators to leverage their insights to grow your portfolio.

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