20 March 2019

PP McGuinness Jr reckons the minimum wage does not exist in Australia [$] “because workers regularly accept [sic] less than the mandated minimum wage”. She cites 7-Eleven workers who were forced to accept half the legal minimum because they “needed to earn money somehow and feared reporting the below-award wage conditions would lead to their visas being cancelled”. She admits this “sound[s] uncomfortably like coercion” — yes, and if it quacks like a duck… Of course, McGuinness is the director of a PR firm that writes opinion articles to push the agenda of its business clients, and this PR column is designed to shift responsibility onto the victims of exploitation. Implicit in her argument is the idea that bosses should be free to pick and choose which workplace laws they obey — and this is certainly a view shared by the great many wage thieves who do not fear being caught by the underresourced and toothless Fair Work Ombudsman. But that need not be the case: we can make the minimum wage a reality by making wage thieves scared again.