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Magazine of Socialist Action in Australia

Low Pay – No Way!

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Australia is the 19th richest country in the world with a trillion dollar economy. The total wealth of the top 200 people is $126 billion. In 2007 these top 200 richest people increased their wealth by 26.7%!

At the same time most workers received meagre pay rises of between 2% and 5%. Many received no pay rise at all. Even if you were lucky enough to receive a pay rise it was quickly eroded by increases in the cost of living. The price of petrol, rent, food and many other basic items has gone through the roof.

What is clear is that over the past decade we have seen the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, not just in Australia but world wide. If this is what happens during an unprecedented economic boom what will happen when the economy slips into recession?

The vast majority of jobs that have been created in recent years are either part time or casual. There has been a drop of 51,000 full time jobs in the last decade alone. It is estimated that 483,000 Australians are currently unemployed and another 800,000 want more work. The wage gap between permanent and casual workers continues to increase.

Many sections of society are largely stuck in low paid casual jobs and as such are the most disadvantaged. This is the case in particular with women and young people who are mostly employed in the low paid sectors of retail, fast food, hospitality and childcare.

These problems are particularly stark in Western Australia and it is for this reason that the Socialist Party (SP) has launched the End Low Pay campaign in that state. SP is also campaigning for all of Howard’s Work Choices laws to be scrapped immediately. We support the right for workers to have trade union representation and for the right to strike and organize without restrictions.

It’s only by getting organised that we can fight low pay and casualisation. Both Labor and the Liberals put the interests of big business before those of ordinary working people. If we want to end low pay and insecurity we have to organise in the workplaces and build a new party that will fight for us in the same way that the Liberals and Labor stand up for their mates in big business.

The End Low Pay campaign in Perth demands:

– The immediate introduction of a $16 per hour minimum wage as a step towards a $20 per hour minimum wage.

– That all casuals to have the option of transferring to permanent full time or part time jobs after a period of six months.

– That the Rudd ALP government scraps Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs) immediately and pledge not to introduce another form of individual contract.

By Socialist Party reporters

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