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Unions: Small Business Budget money should increase minimum wages


The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) is calling for the $5.5 billion last week’s Budget offered small business be used to increase the nation’s minimum wage.

In a Submission to the Annual Wage Review, the ACTU outlined the ways in which the small business tax measure introduced could improve the National Minimum Wage by $27 per week.

The ACTU points out that approximately 18.8 per cent of Australia’s workforce is being paid the national minimum wage, a number they say highlights an area of the population that could be contributing more to the economy if pay rates were higher.

“A $27 per week pay rise for the 1.86 million Australian workers on minimum wages will provide a $3.1 billion economic stimulus,” ACTU Secretary Dave Oliver said.

“That means a pay rise for cleaners, people who work in shops and restaurants and other lowest paid workers will flow back into the economy and increase consumer spending.”

The union body says the $5.5 billion put forward by the Federal Government as part of its Jobs and Small Business Package will save the average small business an average of $3,000 p.a., which they say is simply not enough to boost employment. A lift in minimum wages is being cited as an imperative move for the economy and those with small earnings.

“It’s shocking that in this era of slow wage growth the Abbott Government is siding with business over workers again and is calling for the Fair Work Commission to hold back growth on the wages of lowest paid workers,” Mr Oliver said.

“Failure to lift wages will result in creating an underclass of working poor in Australia and no one wants that.”