Australian unions call for minimum wage hike as wage support ends

The wage hike to A$26 a week would allow low-wage workers to spend more, and is an effective way of spurring local businesses.
By: | March 30, 2021

Unions are urging the Australia government to lift the minimum wage to help low-income workers and boost the economic recovery, ahead of the expiry of JobKeeper, the country’s wage support programme, in end-March. 

“Until the pandemic is past there is still a need to support businesses that have been affected through no fault of their own”, Australian Council of Trade Unions secretary Sally McManus told ABC news. 

“The pandemic is still with us and will still be with us until the vaccine is rolled out in our country and around the world,” she said.

McManus added that she was concerned of the effect of withdrawing the support measure, with potentially up to 150,000 people expected to lose their jobs as a result. 

A lift in the minimum wage to A$26 (US$19.85) a week would aid economic recovery, and is a “small amount” for employers to be able to afford, she said. 

READ: To boost wages, Australia’s jobless rate needs to fall

“One thing we absolutely know is that people on the minimum wage, on the lowest wages, they spend every single cent that they earn, so it is a very effective way of ensuring that local businesses, small businesses, are getting customers through the door,” she said.