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A well deserved pay rise for essential workers

Essential workers deserve a pay rise for their work during the COVID-19 pandemic, says the Council of Trade Unions as they launch a call on the Government to raise the Minimum Wage to $22.75 an hour – the Living Wage rate.

“Our essential workers are heroes who worked so hard to get us through the pandemic, and far too many of them did it on a wages that they can’t sustain a family on. Now’s the time to reward our essential workers and those on the front lines with a well deserved pay rise,” says Richard Wagstaff, President of the Council of Trade Unions.

“A pay rise for essential workers will also be good for our economy and our communities. When essential workers get a pay rise, they will spend it in their community, supporting local businesses, getting the car repaired, taking the kids out for dinner.

“It will be a shot in the arm for local communities right around the country as we recover from COVID-19 and the Delta outbreak.

“The Living Wage rate of $22.75 an hour has been calculated by researchers to be the level at which workers can afford the basic necessities of life and participate in their community. For essential workers who have seen more and more of their wage bill eaten up by housing and other rising costs, this will be a well deserved boost.

“We’ve seen throughout the COVID-19 pandemic the ways that poverty and inequality make our society more vulnerable to external shocks. The Government can strengthen our communities while rewarding the people who worked so hard to keep us all safe and healthy over the last few years.

“Research by economists at MOTU shows we can afford to do this – that a minimum wage of $22.75 won’t push up unemployment, just as the recent raises over the last few years haven’t. Corporations have benefitted from the strong economic bounce back – corporate profits are up 17% this year. That means there’s more than enough money to reward our essential workers.

“The Government can and should act now to make this happen,” says Richard Wagstaff.