ALP urges Fair Work Commission to give "substantial" minimum wage increase

The submission will not include a dollar figure for a rise.

The Labor opposition has called for a "substantial" increase in the minimum wage, in a submission lodged with the Fair Work Commission's annual wage review.

However, Australian Industry Group, which represents manufacturers and fast-food franchises, will argue last year's tax offset changes have already raised incomes for the low-paid and so justify a "modest" increase in the minimum wage of 2 per cent.

Under its proposal to the commission the minimum hourly rate would rise this year to $20.07, with the subsequent increase taking it to $21.17.

The government increased its attack on Mr Shorten's approach.

It suggested the commission must recognise "the impact on business, employment growth, inflation and the sustainability, performance and competitiveness of the national economy, and the employment prospects for award-reliant employees".

"What we want is a fair, responsible but real wage increase for Australian workers", he said.

But she defended the organisation's claim for a real wage cut, labelling it a "genuine request for moderation after the last five years of above-inflation increases".

Major employer groups have locked in behind the prime minister's warning that "unsustainable" pay increases could cost jobs. "But we know it happens: we hear it from our members, we see it".

Notably, Labor's submission says the commission panel reviewing the minimum wage is "constrained by the current legislative provisions".

In its submission, Labor says global experience shows significant increases in the minimum wage can be sustained without costing jobs while on the other hand, persistently low wages growth posed a real threat to consumer demand and the broader economy. It is essential that the increase awarded by the Panel this year is much more modest.

Labor leader Bill Shorten said today in a separate statement that low wage movement had an economy-wide effect.

"It's unacceptable that an adult Australian in 2019 could work full time and yet still live in poverty".

"Labor believes in a fair day's pay for a fair day's work and a living wage is fundamental to achieving that goal", he said.

Labor pointed to the United Kingdom as proof a higher minimum wage won't push more people into unemployment.

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry workplace relations director, Scott Barklamb, responded that the minimum wage in those countries came "off a low base".

OECD statistics reveal the Australian minimum wage is now US$427.59 per week, not far behind Luxembourg at US$457.25 per week.

LABOR today confirms it wants to overhaul our main wages tribunal saying it can not deliver decent rises for low income earners.

The government is countering that wage rises which did not match better economic conditions would cost jobs. It's their wages and their purchasing power that helps keep small businesses afloat'.

Mr O'Connor said lifting the minimum wage would stimulate the economy, arguing the link between hard work and a fair reward was broken.

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