Most Australians support more wealth equality
Published: 6 June 2011
New research showing Australians strongly favour a more equal distribution of wealth bolsters the case for a $28 a week wage rise for the nation’s lowest paid workers – including QNU members who are currently on award wages.
Unions have begun pressing the case for a $28 wage rise for the nation’s lowest wage earners.
The ACTU presented the research into attitudes towards wealth, inequality and the minimum wage during the Fair Work Australia Minimum Wage Panel hearings into the annual wages review in May.
The claim on behalf of about 1.3 million award-reliant workers is for either a $28 a week increase or 4.2 per cent of an employee’s wage, whichever is greater.
If successful, the claim would lift the National Minimum Wage from $569.90 to $597.90 – an increase from $15 per hour to $15.74.
Most award-reliant workers receive more than the National Minimum Wage.
This modest claim is designed to ensure the one in six workers who are dependent on awards are not left behind by Australia’s economic prosperity.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the cost of living jumped 4.5 per cent in 2010.
The ACTU’s research shows Australians dramatically underestimate the degree of wealth inequality within society.
It reveals that Australians understate the wealth of the richest among the community and even more dramatically overstate the wealth of the poorest people.
When asked what they believed the minimum wage was, Australians overstated it by an average of $68.40 per week.
The research indicates most people are genuinely surprised to learn what the minimum wage actually is and believe Australia should be much fairer.
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