MINIMUM WAGE MUST RISE TO ADDRESS PENALTY RATE CUTS

The Andrews Labor Government is calling for an increase to the National Minimum Wage (NMW) to support low paid workers in our community.

The Labor Government has made a submission to the Fair Work Commission annual wage review that focuses on  maintaining a fair safety net for low paid and award reliant workers, particularly those in the hospitality, retail and fast food industries who face cuts to penalty rates.

The submission calls for an increase to the NMW of at least 2.5 per cent.

The submission notes there is increasing reliance on award wages in Australia and Victoria at the same time as there is growing inequality in earnings, with low wage households not enjoying the same increases in income as higher wage households.

These concerns are highlighted by data that shows that the gap between the poverty line and the NMW has narrowed by 12 percentage points between 2000 and 2015.

This gap is likely to grow even further with the Turnbull Government’s decision to support penalty rate cuts to some of our state’s lowest paid workers.

In Victoria, these cuts will affect 88,000 people, including 22,000 workers in regional Victoria and 46,000 women.

The high number of women earning the minimum wage contributes to the large gender pay gap across Australia.

The challenges facing women in the workplace – such as the lack of affordable childcare and part time work opportunities – mean that by keeping the minimum wage low, more families will drift towards the poverty line.

Since the Labor Government was elected, more than 200,000 new jobs have been created. An increase in the minimum wage helps ensure that as much as possible this jobs growth is inclusive.

The submission is consistent with Victorian Government wages policy.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Local Government Natalie Hutchins

“It’s vital for workers and families who rely on the minimum wage that it be increased – that’s why we’ve made the submission.”

“With the Turnbull Government supporting cuts to penalty rates, we are going to see more individuals and families near the poverty line.”

“If the Fair Work Commission doesn’t increase the National Minimum Wage by a significant amount our lowest paid workers are going to fall further behind.”

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