Alberta minimum wage: A policy deep dive

Australia’s Retail and Fast Food Workers Union secretary Josh Cullinan has fought to eliminate different wage levels for youth since 2016.

“It’s just a cynical ploy to provide cheaper labour to companies from a group of workers who don’t vote. There’s no election cost for the parties that entrench this legislation,” he told Postmedia.

“It ends up being used as a mechanism to churn those workers while they are so cheap, and doesn’t actually deal with the underlying systemic issue of youth unemployment or underemployment.”

Older Australians also find it tough to find work, Cullinan said, “but no one would ever propose a seniors rate to encourage employment of that age group.”

Cullinan has focused on fast food giants. During Fair Work Commission hearings, he said, evidence and cross-examination of franchisees has proven a “learn or churn” system, whereby workers get fewer hours as they age, only to be replaced by younger employees (unless they’re one of the few chosen for management training).

“All work is work, all work deserves a fair day’s pay, and a fair day’s pay shouldn’t be discriminatory on the basis of age,” he said.