To rebuild better, workers’ wages must lead the recovery. In the short term this means ensuring no worker is left out of pocket as a result of COVID-19, but in the medium to long term means government and business investing in higher wages.
Despite COVID-19 restrictions on the ability of many to work normally, everyone should be getting 100% of their normal pay. Employers are responsible for paying their workers, including those employed by contractors. Employment agreements have not disappeared and agreed pay and conditions must be upheld.
In the medium to long term, putting money in people’s pockets is a smart move as we recover from COVID-19. When workers have decent liveable incomes they can provide for their families and buy goods and services in the local economy, up and down the main streets of our country. It therefore helps to keep businesses alive and thriving – a win-win. Good wages lift people out of poverty and help local businesses.
Right now, our union needs to work together to ensure workers receive 100% of their wages. We also need to ensure everyone can see the importance of wage growth and grow our union so that we can achieve decent wage increases through bargaining.
We need to continue to fight for the Living Wage. When more businesses and organisations commit to paying a Living Wage, they will be making a long-term impact on the wellbeing of working people and their communities. Central and local government can play their part too, with social procurement enabling secure Living Wage jobs across the state sector.
In the medium term, the Government can rebuild better by legislating Fair Pay Agreements (FPAs). Businesses can embrace the opportunities FPAs bring, with competition being based on the best delivery of services, quality performance, or the best products, instead of the lowest possible wages. We need to increase public funding for essential services and continue to fight for equal pay.
Workers should not bear the brunt of COVID-19. To rebuild better, workers need money in their pockets so that they can purchase the essentials and their families can thrive now and into the future.