Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has accused big business of deliberately keeping wages growth low, saying it was time to for them to pay a "fair day's wage for a fair day's work".
In his first major speech of the year, Mr Shorten told the National Press Club the economy had grown since the global financial crisis, workers are more productive than ever and company profits went up 20 per cent last year alone.
"If we don't demand a better deal and greater security for working Australians, then it just won't happen," he said.
A Labor government would restore Sunday penalty rates, crack down on the exploitation of labour hire and put the "bargaining" back into enterprise bargaining, as well as lead a new national push to close the gender pay gap, he said.
His speech came as the latest National Australia Bank business survey found confidence has bounced to its highest level since July 2017, buoyed by a stronger global economic backdrop.
Business conditions also remained well above its long-run average.
While the Turnbull government has been beating its chest about the strength of the jobs market in the past year and the economy more broadly, Australians don't appear to be sharing its enthusiasm.
Far from getting a lift from its economic self-promotion, the latest Essential Research poll shows support for the coalition government has declined one point on a two-party preferred basis from a fortnight ago to 46 per cent, while Labor edged up to 54 per cent.
The poll found almost three-quarters of respondents believe the cost of living had worsened over the year, while two in five thought their personal financial position had deteriorated and a similar amount said their wages had worsened.
In contrast, 42 per cent thought company profits had improved.
Even so, 40 per cent of respondents trust the coalition more to manage the economy compared to 30 per cent backing Labor.
Mr Shorten unsurprisingly disagreed with the finding.
"I think if you ask people who are who is better at managing the economy in the interests of working and middle-class people, I think people look at Labor pretty positively," he said.
The poll found Labor was seen as more trusted to ensure a fair taxation system, protecting jobs and local industries, and housing affordability, while Liberals were viewed as the better party to handle security and the war on terrorism.
The weekly ANZ-Roy Morgan consumer confidence index rose 1.3 per cent, recovering almost half of a sharp drop in the previous week.
ANZ head of Australian economics David Plank thought a planned rail strike in Sydney that has been averted by court action may have helped sentiment a little.
But a jump in petrol prices in Melbourne and Sydney had dampened views about present financial conditions, he said.