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Minimum wage boost is a step towards major goal of Change the Rules

Today’s announcement of a 3.5 per cent increase or $24.32 per week to the minimum wage will still leave some full-time workers struggling to put food on the table.

A major goal of the union movement’s Change the Rules campaign – now underway in the Longman byelection – is the restoration of a living wage.

Queensland Council of Unions General Secretary Ros McLennan said the minimum wage should not leave people in poverty.

“It should provide a comfortable life for low-paid workers and underpin our labour market.

“The minimum wage should be pegged at 60 per cent of the median wage. This is the level set by the OECD – that is what’s required to ensure that every full-time worker in Queensland and Australia can survive on their wage.”

The 64-cents-an-hour pay rise announced today would do little to lift the sentiment of Longman voters worried about their living standards, she said.

Only a quarter of voters in Longman feel that their living standards have improved at all since the 2016 Federal Election, according to a poll conducted by ReachTel and the ACTU.

The poll of 928 people in the federal division of Longman, taken last month, reveals that more than 75 percent of people in the electorate feel their living standards have either stayed the same or gone backwards.

“The relative pessimism of the electorate comes at a time of near-record low wages growth, rising costs of living and increasing work insecurity,” she said.

“All workers need a pay rise, but none more so than half-a-million Queenslanders who are now reliant on awards to set their wages,” she said.

“This 3.5% increase that equates to $26.71 per week for a hospitality worker or $24.33 for a horticulture worker will be a welcome reprieve for them but we will continue to fight for the restoration of a living wage that underpins a much fairer collective bargaining system.”

“We have to change the rules on the minimum wage. People who have been forced into poverty by the inadequacy of this wage should not have to wait every year to see if they will be saved by the Fair Work Commission. The minimum wage should be set to keep pace with wages.

“Moving towards a Living Wage would help mitigate widening income inequality. Rising income and wealth inequality is the challenge of our time. Tackling inequality will help resolve many of the fundamental economic and social problems we currently confront.”