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Morrison Government provides wage subsidy after union pressure

March 30, 2020

Today’s wage subsidy announcement demonstrates the Morrison Government has listened to the Australian Workers’ Union and millions of working people across Australia.

For the last three weeks, the AWU has been lobbying the Federal Government to introduce a wage subsidy to ensure the economy can survive the COIVID-19 crisis and workers are financially supported if they are stood down or their industry is shut down due to government mandate.

The AWU says the new Job Keeper payment will help to keep people in employment but it crucially falls far short of the wage subsidy being provided by the UK Government.

Under the new arrangements, businesses will receive a fortnightly wage subsidy up to $1,500 per employee. The Government has also raised the means-testing threshold for the partners of JobSeeker recipients to $80,000 a year.

The AWU will examine all of these details over the coming days but with the median wage being $1,375 a week, it falls short of what many Australians will need to get by.

“The Government went from explicitly denying it would ever deliver a wage subsidy just three weeks ago, to now paying millions of workers $1500 a fortnight,” said Daniel Walton, National Secretary of the AWU.

“The pressure applied by the AWU and other unions is working but we need to keep lobbying the Government to ensure people are paid a fair wage, one that actually is more akin to their actual pay check. Wages have disappeared overnight, but the bills keep coming in – we need to make sure people can look after themselves and their families. ”

The AWU is seeking clarity on how employers can access the wage subsidy so they can re-employ people already stood down and is also concerned that many casual workers will miss out on the new subsidy altogether.

The AWU is also calling on the Government to fast track these payments and not delay until to 1 May.

“There are many businesses on the brink of collapse who are making decisions about staffing numbers and they need this money now, not in five weeks time. This income needs to be freed up and reach everyone who needs it.

It’s vital that no-one slips through the cracks,” said Mr Walton.

Read more about the government wage subsidy here.

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