Labor to push for wage hike ‘on first day’

About 200,000 workers earn the minimum wage (Bigstock)

Labor leader Bill Shorten has intensified pressure on the workplace umpire to lift wages for up to 2.3 million workers within a matter of weeks, making the decision one of his first priorities if he takes power. Source: Sydney Morning Herald.

In a new campaign on wages, Mr Shorten intends to scrap the federal government’s submission on the minimum wage and lodge a new proposal to boost pay packets as soon as July 1 under a Labor government.

Mr Shorten wrote to Fair Work Commission president Iain Ross yesterday to put the regulator on notice to expect a Labor proposal for a “real increase to award rates” if Labor wins the election this Saturday.

“On the first day of government we will argue through the current annual wage review for a real increase to award rates,” Mr Shorten writes in the letter to Mr Ross.

The move ramps up the political debate over workplace relations amid estimates that employers would have to add $8.7 billion a year to their payrolls to meet union demands for a “living” wage.

Labor has already promised to amend the law to force the Fair Work Commission to reverse cuts to penalty rates and change the rules around enterprise bargaining agreements.

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry has warned that the ACTU call for a “living wage” to be set at 60 per cent of the median full-time wage would cost employers $8.7 billion a year.

The chamber estimates about 200,000 workers earn the minimum wage but that any increase would flow through to about 2.3 million Australians who work on awards, leading to the estimate of an $8.7 billion cost to employers.

Mr Morrison argued last week that the election would decide whether the unions would gain the power to impose “red tape” on employers through their influence over Mr Shorten.

While Mr Morrison did not set out any changes to industrial relations if he retains power, he warned that a Labor government would weaken the Australian Building and Construction Commission and the Registered Organisations Commission.


Shorten to press for higher wages ‘on the first day’ if he wins power (Sydney Morning Herald

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