Workers from hospitality, retail and health sectors joined ACTU Secretary Sally McManus outside the Fair Work Commission (FWC) in Melbourne today, calling for a 3.5 per cent rise in the minimum wage.
The FWC is in the process of reviewing submissions for the Annual Wage Review. A wage increase will improve the lives of millions of working Australians currently being paid the minimum wage, but multiple employer groups have made submissions arguing for wage freezes or cuts to wages in real terms.
“Businesses are arguing as hard as they can to keep wages low, to freeze wages all through this year. This is unacceptable. 25 per cent of the working population depend on this pay rise,” McManus told the crowd.
For fast food sector worker Jeremy, a freeze in wages affects his ability to work. “A pay increase for me is an opportunity to get to work. I can’t pay for petrol. Without an increase, I can’t afford to get to work,” he said.
Grace, a hospitality worker, told the crowd that wage stagnation is leaving workers behind with many workers unable to afford basics like phone plans, car registration or dental check-ups.
“Wage stagnation is a wage cut. We do not accept this wage cut. We do not accept this arrested development. Wage stagnations leaves us behind and we will not accept it.”
According to Sally McManus, the answer is simple.
“Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg, they say ‘what can be done about wage rises?’
“One of the big things that could be done, right now is for them to be in there, on our side arguing for a pay rise. It’s actually really, really simple.
“Any arguments that nothing can be done about pay rises, that’s just an outright lie.
“It’s up to us, the union movement of this nation, to fight as hard as we can until we get wage justice.”