Unions and Employers Battle It Out Over Wage Increase

In submissions made to the 2019-20 Annual Wage Review, employer groups have argued for no increase to minimum wages while unions have asked for a 4% increase from July 2020.

Ai Group submitted that the Expert Panel of the Fair Work Commission should not award an increase to minimum wages this year.  Ai Group says the priority needs to be on assisting businesses to retain as many employees as possible and on encouraging businesses to take on employees over the months ahead. Likewise, the ACCI called on the Expert Panel not to award an increase, saying:

With what is clearly carnage for jobs and small businesses, with an additional million or more of our fellow Australians looking for work, and with a massive task of restart, repair, and recovery in front of all of us this is simply not a year in which there can be any increase in minimum wages.

The Australian Retailers Association argue minimum wages should remain at current levels until mid-2021 with any increase in costs likely to have a “detrimental effect on employee headcount and/or hours, as well as impact future job opportunities.” The National Retail Association called for no increase, citing the “staggering decline in retail turnover” faced by retail businesses.

For employees, the ACTU have sought an increase of 4% to minimum wages, saying that a “real lift” to minimum wages will help with the transition to improved conditions for all Australians as the nation eases restrictions arising from the pandemic. 

The Victorian Government submitted that an increase of at least 3% to the national minimum wage and a “fair and reasonable increase to all award minima” will provide a stimulus to the recovery of the economy.

ES will update subscribers as soon as a decision is known.