The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) is calling for the minimum wage to be raised to the level of a living wage, recommending an increase of $80 per week for low paid workers.
The ACTU’s comments following the release of a new report “Living up to the Promise of Harvester: Time for a Living Wage” which argues for all people to be paid a living wage, as part of the campaign to Change the Rules for working people.
ACTU secretary Sally McManus said the current minimum wage leaves 3 million people in Australia below the poverty line.
“We are rapidly moving towards the creation of an American-style working poor. A class of people who barely keep their heads above water, despite working full time, sometimes in multiple jobs,” she said.
“Corporate profits rose 40 per cent last year, and full time workers can’t afford to feed and clothe a family. The system is broken.”
McManus said the living wage should be set as 60 per cent of the median wage – in line with the OECD’s recommendations – which equates to an $80 difference between the minimum wage and the living wage.
“By tying the median wage to the living wage you make sure everyone rises not just some people,” McManus said.