The ACTU has reaffirmed its call for the Fair Work Commission to raise minimum and award wages by 7% in its reply submission to the Annual Wage Review filed this week.

 The call comes after new research by the Centre for Future Work, published this morning, shows that such a pay increase would have a negligible impact on prices, and would have no impact whatsoever if companies diverted just 1.4% of their record profits to pay for it.

 With inflation dropping slightly from 7.8% to 7%, the ACTU’s claim would match it and provide urgently needed cost of living relief for Australia’s lowest paid workers.

 It would be about $57 a week, or $3000 a year, for a full-time worker on the minimum wage.

Employer groups, on the other hand, are effectively calling for real pay cuts of between $1350 and $1500, repeating baseless claims that larger wage increases would set of a wage-price spiral.

This is also despite big companies posting record profits that have been the key driver of inflation. As recently as February, Qantas posted a $1.4 billion profit, supermarket giant Woolworths revealed a $907 million profit (up 14%) and Coles announced $643 million profit (up 17.1%), hot on the heels of Commonwealth Bank, which reported $5.15 billion in profit (up 9%). Business can easily absorb an increase for the lowest paid.

 Every year, the Fair Work Commission hears from unions and employers before deciding whether to lift minimum wages and award wages and by how much. About one in four workers (or 2.67 million) are directly affected by this decision, which comes into effect on 1 July 2023.

Quotes attributable to ACTU Secretary Sally McManus:

“A 7% increase in the wages of Australia’s lowest paid workers is a matter of survival.

“Minimum-wage workers are going backwards while the cost of living has risen steeply. Rents, utility bills and groceries are still going up, inflation figures out this week show. This raise is essential for workers such as cleaners, care sector staff and security guards just to keep their heads above water.

 “Today’s research from the Centre for Future Work also shows that this increase would have no meaningful impact on inflation.

“If businesses really cared about lowering inflation, they could cover a 7% pay rises for their low paid workers by diverting just 1.4% of their record profits. Instead, they’ve been busy running baseless scare campaigns about a wage-price spiral, while driving up inflation through price rises and profiteering – their own greed-price spiral.”