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Unions Seeking Minimum Wage Rise to Support Recovery

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 Workers and unions rallied outside Harvey Norman stores in Launceston and Hobart today in support of a fair pay minimum wage rise. Tasmanian Times spoke to Unions Tasmania Secretary Jessica Munday outside the Harvey Norman store in Murray Street, Hobart, 28 May 2021. Tasmanian Times All right, we’re here with Jessica Monday…we’ve had a […]

Workers and unions rallied outside Harvey Norman stores in Launceston and Hobart today in support of a fair pay minimum wage rise.

Tasmanian Times spoke to Unions Tasmania Secretary Jessica Munday outside the Harvey Norman store in Murray Street, Hobart, 28 May 2021.

Tasmanian Times

All right, we’re here with Jessica Monday…we’ve had a fairly good turnout on a cold day and a classically loud union demonstration here in front of Harvey Norman, what’s all this about today?

Jessica Munday

Well look, we’re here at the front of Harvey Norman, because there’s a really important decision that the Fair Work Commission is making, and will make next month around the minimum wage rise. And we’ve got blokes like Harvey Norman and companies like his that really profited, even during last year when it really hurt workers, you know, making submissions that workers shouldn’t receive a pay rise. Now we’re arguing, in fact, the opposite is required that after nearly a decade of low wage growth. Workers absolutely need a pay rise, a decent pay rise, and especially if you’re those 2.2 million who are on minimum or award wages.

Tasmanian Times

So what liberty do the franchisees have with regards to wages?

Jessica Munday

Yeah, look, a lot of the staff are on award wages, so they choose to pay them on the basic award. And that’s why the decision that the Fair Work Commission makes is very important, because that covers everybody on the award system. And so you’ve got Harvey Norman, as a company, you know, members of things like national Retailers Association, and then you’ve got other big ones like the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry who are arguing for, you know, anywhere between zero and zero is a pretty common number, or arguing for delays, which mean wage cuts. So this is really important for award wage workers, because that’s how their wages are set. And it’s only the unions that argue for a decent rise.

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Tasmanian Times

And is there any reason why Harvey Norman in particular?

Jessica Munday

Look, I think people are pretty angry at Harvey Norman, and particularly Gerry Harvey. You know, the man increased his combined wealth with his wife from $2.57 billion last year to 3.2 billion this year, himself he took home I think was about $80 million in dividends and salary, while the company kept 22 million in JobKeeper, despite the profits and despite the dividend payout him. So there’s a real anger, I think, from workers when they see corporate behaviour, either individually or collectively as companies, so out of step with what they’re experiencing. And when you’re here talking about minimum wage workers who earn less than, can learn less than 20 bucks an hour on a minimum wage, but you’ve got guys like Gerry Harvey, and big companies arguing for them to get less. And I think there’s a real palpable sense amongst workers that the corporate greed is out of control.

Tasmanian Times

We’ve seen in Victoria another lock-down, and we’re now in the post-JobKeeper period., does that kind of reinforce how precarious a lot of the workers are in Australia?

Jessica Munday

Look, it just rams at home. I think in Tasmania because of our COVID situation, we haven’t had the long periods of lock-down that Melbourne have had. And, you know, but we had that really acute period of time where we had tens of thousands out of work. And that exposed completely how awful it is to be in an insecure situation. And we’re seeing that even as jobs come back online, they’re still in secure. So it really demonstrates that the government should have kept a mechanism in place for this. I mean, we hoped outbreaks wouldn’t occur. But honestly, in the absence of a fully vaccinated population, and well managed national quarantine, it was going to happen. And so a lot of business lobbies and unions called for the retention of JobKeeper and the government decided to withdraw it anyway and I think that was the wrong call.

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Tasmanian Times

You mentioned the Fair Work Commission. That’s not a political body, at least in the strict sense of the term, but we are sort of approaching a federal election. So to what extent do you think workplace relations and wages are going to be issues in this campaign? And specifically here in Tasmania?

Jessica Munday

I think for the first time in a long time, it’ll be in people’s top couple of issues, particularly the job security issue, and the low wage issue. We’ve already seen policies from both sides that signal they’re talking about it. The Labor Party in particular have come out with a suite of policies around, you know, making sure that workers who work in labour hire get paid the same as someone who’s a direct employee, properly defining casual work, all of that sort of stuff. So I think it will matter. And I think people when they go to the election, they’re going to be asking themselves if if things are better for them, and I think the answer will be no. When it comes to households, if they’re still cobbling together multiple jobs, they’re still down on shifts because the COVID, o they work in a particularly COVID-impacted industry like tourism, like retail, and they’re going to look at that and go into my job delivery for me in terms of security and wages, and I think the answer will be no and they will look to government. They’ll look to government for answers so it will be up to both of the major parties to articulate a pathway to better wages and more job security.

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Tasmanian Times

Alright, thanks for your time Jessica.

 

Tasmanian Times · Unions Tasmania protest at Harvey Norman, Hobart

Source: Tasmanian Times https://www.tasmaniantimes.com/2021/05/unions-seeking-wage-minimum-rise-to-support-recovery/#utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=unions-seeking-wage-minimum-rise-to-support-recovery

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Finance Advice 2021