Employees on minimum wage deserve a $27 a week pay rise after unfairly shouldering the burden of the economic downturn, according to the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU).
The ACTU will seek the pay rise for 1.4 million award-dependent workers who suffered a wage freeze in the middle of last year’s economic slowdown.
Addressing the National Press Club in Canberra yesterday, ACTU Secretary Jeff Lawrence said the pay rise would “restore the real value of minimum wages”.
The $27 a week hike would lift the minimum wage from $543.78 to $570.78, meaning that the figure would be more than $15 an hour for the first time.
“The real story of the global financial crisis is the sacrifices made by ordinary working people,” said Lawrence.
“Not only did Australia’s unemployment ranks grow by 185,000 and those remaining in jobs worked harder and longer days, but low-paid workers had their wages frozen.
“In true Australian fashion, it’s time to repay the favour for those sacrifices. Fairness says it’s finally time for a decent rise in minimum wages.
“Low paid workers are resilient and resourceful. They don’t want a freebie. They do it tough and they deserve a fair share.”