As the federal election campaign has shown, Scott Morrison is not interested in raising your wages, but your union is.
After the recent announcement that inflation had galloped away to 5.1 per cent whilst wages growth remains stalled, the Prime Minister stays true to form. None of this was his fault and it isn’t his job to fix it.
Meanwhile, the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) has revised its Annual Wage Review claim from 5 to 5.5 per cent to ensure that the quarter of the Australian workforce who rely on a rise in the minimum wage don’t fall further behind as the cost-of-living continues to spiral out of control.
This increase would lift the hourly rate in the minimum adult wage from $20.33 to $21.45, the weekly rate from $772.60 to $815.09 and the annual rate from $40,175.20 to $42,384.84.
ACTU secretary Sally McManus is fed up with the indifference the Morrison government has shown for the plight of workers.
“Scott Morrison’s Government’s submission to the Fair Work Commission is silent on backing a pay increase that keeps up with the cost of living. Instead it dedicates a whole section to the benefits of low paid work.”
“Scott Morrison must act to support increases to the minimum and award wages to protect one in four working Australians from rising cost of living pressures. A 5.5 per cent increase is what is now needed just to ensure people tread water, anything less has them drowning in bills,” McManus says.
At a time when rampant price increases are decimating family budgets, the ACTU proposed increase is necessary for workers to make ends meet.
Not that Scott Morrison gives a stuff. The Prime Minister says as much at every opportunity, claiming “only businesses can lift wages” and refusing to support the ACTU’s proposal for a meaningful rise in the minimum wage.
“Businesses can make wages go up. When businesses are doing well and when unemployment is going down, then wages go up. That is how it works,” Mr. Morrison says.
Never mind that the federal government is one of this country’s largest employers and could lift its deliberate policy of suppressing public sector wages. The Morrison Government could also support the union movement’s minimum wage case but won’t.
In Australia’s overworked and underpaid care industries, there is silence and indifference from a government that knows that these sectors are buckling under the weight of an increasing workforce crisis but refuses to do anything about it.
This failure is despite the clear and unequivocal message from the Royal Commission into Aged Care that a wage rise for workers was essential in any strategy to save the system from collapse.
McManus says workers are paying the price for the Morrison government’s deliberate strategy of keeping wages low to increase profits.
Other Governments and even some employers are backing cost of living pay increases, by doing nothing, the Federal Government continues a nine year run of only acting to keep wage increases low and not lifting a finger to ensure working Australians have pay rises that secure their living standards.
In the bin fire that was the Channel 9 leaders’ debate, Opposition leader Anthony Albanese asked Morrison whether he agreed every worker should be paid the minimum wage. The Prime Minister couldn’t even bring himself to agree with this basic standard.
For Sally McManus, the well-being of working Australians depends on it.
“Scott Morrison’s failure to act to back working people is a danger to the economy. Every dollar working people lose in real terms is a dollar not spent in local businesses,” McManus says.
“People have already cut back discretionary spending, they will have no choice but to cut it completely as for so many workers – cleaners, aged care and retail workers, there is nothing left after the rent, groceries, and petrol. This hurts local businesses who depend on people having a bit extra to spend.”
It’s clear that the only path to an increase in pay is a change of government on election day: May 21st.