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Living wage debate not quite right

COSBOA members knows that a sensible wage policy is essential for a strong economy and strong employment.

Peter Strong, CEO of COSBOA, today stated, “The announcement from Labor is more sensible than the recent call from the ACTU for large increases in the minimum wage. Any change in a wage rate must be affordable for all business – small, medium and large - otherwise workers and business owners lose”,

Mr Strong added “Small business owners are telling me that if they are forced to pay the large wage increases being promoted by the ACTU then they will have to reduce staff hours, or actually retrench staff, and then work longer hours in their business. This means the ACTU proposal will result in reduced take-home pay for workers and a loss of already scarce family time for the business owner”.

Mr Strong also added "The inability of current ACTU leadership to understand – as Bob Hawke and Paul Keating did - that wage rises must be affordable to business demonstrates that they simply don’t understand how the economy works and are not shy in advancing ridiculous arguments that just don’t make sense."

Mr Strong said “Almost every day now we hear new economic news telling us that the national and global economies are growing slower than at any other time in recent history, but it seems to be falling on deaf ears within the ACTU. Worst of all, the ACTU has also shown itself to be a peddler of false information by suggesting that Australia should adopt the OECD living wage target of the minimum wage being 60% of the median wage. The OECD level is actually set at 50% and Australia, with its minimum wage currently at 54% of median wage, already exceeds this target”.

“The way to higher wages is through increased productivity and thankfully that is the simple truth that has been recognized by the Australian Union Movement since the Wages Accord frameworks advanced by the Hawke Government in the 1980s – but not by the current ACTU. The next Federal Government must be careful with wage policy and seek to grow wages without risking Australia’s economic future. The Labor announcement is a positive step in that direction but we remain concerned about what pressure the ACTU might apply in the future”, Mr Strong concluded.

Fiddling with facts creates a minefield.

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