To save jobs, wages must not change

15 May 2020 |

ACCI will argue that minimum wages should be maintained at current levels through to mid-2021 in a formal submission to the Fair Work Commission to be lodged in the coming weeks.

“With Australia facing an unprecedented economic and jobs crisis, we simply cannot afford to increase the price of retaining and regaining jobs in 2020,” ACCI CEO James Pearson said.

“We cannot afford to place even more jobs at risk by making the cost of employment higher –  2020 is one of those extraordinary years in which our minimum wages simply should not be increased.

“We should take stock of yesterday’s confronting unemployment and underemployment figures. This is not time to be talking about wage increases when hundreds of thousands of Australians have lost their jobs or can’t get enough hours of work.”

Australia has one of the very highest minimum wages in the world. Minimum wages have consistently risen by more than prices for a decade, particularly in the past three years. Even with no increase in 2020, employees on minimum wages will retain increased purchasing power, and all indications are that inflation will remain low.

“Australian businesses, particularly small businesses, simply cannot afford another “business as usual” increase in minimum wages during this pandemic,” Mr Pearson said.

“We must not confuse what government can do to stimulate the economy with what we can ask of small businesses. For people in small businesses that are already struggling with personal debt and making enormous sacrifices to keep their staff on, having to find more money to fund a wage increase at this stage is untenable.

“And in particular we cannot afford a 4 per cent increase,  which would be the highest increase in a decade, as has been proposed by the ACTU.

“It is disturbing we could even consider the highest annual increase in minimum wages in a decade as we confront the worst jobs and economic crisis in living memory.

“The Government made the right decision to introduce the JobKeeper payments; it has helped thousands of businesses retain millions of jobs – but we cannot afford to undo this good work by increasing the price of employment on the very threshold of restarting businesses and getting down to the hard work of recovery.”

Marie Hogg

Senior Adviser - Media

P  |  0431 299 518

E  |  [email protected]

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