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Labor Relations Minister Tony Burke has paid tribute to ‘pandemic heroes’ by calling on the industrial arbiter to raise the wages of low-paid Australians to cope with inflationary pressures.

Speaking to the press in Sydney, Burke used the government’s submission to the Fair Work Commission’s annual minimum wage review to differentiate Labor from the previous government, saying that “the government’s policy of low wages as a that deliberate design feature ended today”.

“This is what it looks like when you have a government that’s willing to fight for better wages,” Burke said.

Labor’s industrial relations spokesman has asked the labor arbitrator to raise wages for low-paid Australians to deal with inflationary pressuresCredit:Alex Ellinghausen

“The government doesn’t want anyone to go back, but this is the most acute case for low wages. They are the people most affected by the cost of living crisis, they are also the people who have the least capacity to have assets or savings to draw on.

Burke said the government did not limit its recommendation only for those on the national minimum wage, which is currently $20.33.

“We referred to low-wage workers. Who are these people? They are largely the heroes of the pandemic. These are the people whose two sides of politics made great speeches after the pandemic, but only one side of politics, the Labor government now, was ready to fight, ”he said.

“So we are also talking about people receiving scholarships close to minimum wage. You’ll find that, for example, vendors, with cleaners, with a lot of people in the care economy. So low-wage workers are the benchmark that’s there.

Asked to define which workers were poorly paid, Burke said it was one of the issues the Fair Work Commission deals with all the time.

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