Open letter: Abolish the subminimum wage for disabled workers

Franklin D Roosevelt set up a system of sheltered workshops for mainly returned soldiers which allowed companies to pay disabled employees substandard wages. This practice still exists in Australia. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Below is an open letter which candidates, companies and others are urged to sign.

* * *

We oppose the practice of paying disabled workers subminimum wage. It is unacceptable that in 2022 disabled people living in Australia can be paid as little as $2.54 per hour, while the minimum wage for others is $20.33 per hour.

These practices don’t help disabled people find work. We know from the Disability Royal Commission that Australia has one of the lowest disability employment rates in the OECD.

As disabled people and allies, we support transition to fairer, equitable work through more modern and just practices to support disabled people in the workplace, such as supported employment and customised employment.

We acknowledge the international workers’ movement to end these archaic practices — led by disabled people — which originated in the 1930s and that seek equitable pay. This movement has seen sweeping legislative success across the past decade.

Disabled people demand equal pay for our work. It is time for Australia to abolish subminimum wages.

[Sign the open letter here or email s.bickley@uq.net.au]