Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten says the law may have to change to ensure the minimum wage is calculated in a way that gives the lowest-paid workers a “living wage”. Source: The West Australian.
The Labor leader has also challenged Australia’s bosses to explain why they’re happy to accept bigger profits yearly while arguing against small pay rises for their workers. It confirms he is taking seriously the push by the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) to overhaul the national minimum wage and will be taking the policy to the election.
"I love this argument put by the bosses of Australia, the fat cats, the top end of town,” Mr Shorten said. “They say if we pay the poorest workers in Australia a bit more, that's out of control. But how is it that the executives are happy to take more and more in corporate profits? This is the problem of Australia in 2019,” he said.
Mr Shorten yesterday reiterated his claim that “everything in Australia is going up except wages.” He said the animating principles behind the minimum wage, currently $18.93 before tax, hadn’t changed since the 1980s, but Australia’s economy had evolved dramatically since then. It meant the minimum wage was no longer suitable for Australia’s lowest-paid workers, he said.
When asked how a Labor Government would convince the Fair Work Commission to change its minimum wage calculations, Mr Shorten said he may need to “change the legislation.” He also dismissed concerns that unemployment would increase if the minimum wage was converted into a higher living wage.
“The minimum wage should be a living wage,” Mr Shorten said.
The ACTU has been pushing for a living wage since 2017. It says a living wage should ensure low paid workers receive an income that covers the reasonable needs of an average sized family.
“This must include the cost of: rent in a suitable dwelling; a balanced and healthy diet; a good quality education, childcare and all health needs; transport; electricity and other energy costs; adequate clothing; an allowance for entertainment; and a contingency for unexpected expenses,” the ACTU has said.