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Unions call for minimum wage workers to be paid an extra $43 a week

Australian workers earning the minimum wage would receive an extra $43 a week under a union proposal which will be submitted to the Fair Work Commission this week.

The Australian Council of Trade Unions has called for the minimum wage to be increased by 10.7 percent over two years.

Currently the minimum full time wage is $37,389.

Opposition leader Bill Shorten hit out at “fat cat” bosses yesterday, as he hinted that Labor will legislate a “living wage” if he’s elected prime minister.

This morning Sally McManus, Secretary of the ACTU, told Neil Mitchell that the minimum wage should be increased first, then awards can be adjusted.

“The very minimum wage, which only 1.9 percent of workers are on, should be a living wage,” she said.

Ms McManus shot down suggestions that changes to the minimum tax threshold could be used to increase the take-home pay of Australia’s lowest paid.

“Shouldn’t we make sure that the wealth that we’re creating is fairly shared? If we don’t fix that problem were going to continue to have this inequality,” she said.

Peter Strong, CEO of the Small Business Council, told Tom Elliott the proposed wage increase would hit small businesses hard.

He said businesses would have three options: to absorb the cost, pass it on to the consumer, or lay staff off.

Mr Strong said Ms McManus was “talking down the economy… when we’re actually in quite a good position.”

He said that efficiency and education are the key to sustainable wage growth.

“We can get that figure up but we’ve got to get it up by getting productivity up, by increasing the skills of people out there… There are ways of getting wages up besides just clicking your fingers and all of a sudden having an increase,” he said.