“If we end up in the world … where people link wage increases one-for-one with inflation, inflation will persist. And it’ll be more difficult. But at the moment, that’s not happening,” Lowe said.
Australian Council of Trade Unions head Sally McManus said the council hadn’t formulated its position on this year’s minimum wage decision yet, citing the uncertain trajectory of inflation.
“We will be expecting that the government will support a decent minimum wage rise and that they absolutely have to consider maintaining real wages,” McManus said.
She said the movement didn’t accept a one-off wage rise for the lowest paid would harm the economy, “but we’ve got to be mindful, you know, where do we strike this?”
“We know that things are at a delicate point in terms of where the economy might go, so we’ll be very mindful of that,” she said.
Diamond said the RTBU supported an increase to the minimum wage in line with CPI, “and we would encourage the federal government to make a submission to the Fair Work Commission to this end”.
Jacqueline King, head of the Queensland Council of Unions, said she also expected the government to back an increase in line with inflation, adding Fair Work would now have to consider gender equality and job security as objects of workplace law in deciding the new minimum wage.
Andrew McKellar, ACCI chief executive, said a wage rise in line with inflation “would be utterly delusional.”
“We have to get on top of inflation, we can’t fuel the fire. Inflation must be brought back to a realistic level in line with the target band, back to 2 to 3 per cent, and we’ve got to get productivity going,” he said.
Workplace Relations Minister Tony Burke recently said the government’s position on the annual wage review would be decided by cabinet.
“Part of us going through due process is that we make a collegiate decision. Obviously, no one ever wants anyone’s wages to go backwards,” he said.
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