The questions that count

Could you live on the minimum wage?

Mar 13, 2012

ACTU’s Jeff Lawrence explains why we should increase the minimum wage.


Each year negotiations begin on a decision which will effect the lives and livelihoods of one in six Australians. They are the low wage workers who are employed in places where there is no collective agreement to ensure they receive basic wages.

It’s called the Annual Wage Review and it’s an opportunity for the ACTU and unions to mount arguments for an increase in the minimum wage. For the 1.4 million people on the minimum wage, its their one chance a year for a pay rise.

Last year, the minimum wage increased by over 3 per cent to $589.30 a week, or $15.51.

But is it enough? How far does less than $600 a week, before tax, go in the capital cities where rents and prices are up? Not far enough, according to Jeff Lawrence, the ACTU general secretary, who outlines on 3Q why there needs to be an increase for the country’s most disadvantaged workers.

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