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Fair Work raises minimum wage by 3.5%

Friday, 01 June 2018
By Jake Nelson
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“We have to change the rules”: Sally McManus, ACTU secretary, speaks outside the Fair Work Commission today. (Source: Twitter)

The Fair Work Commission has raised the national minimum wage by $24.30 a week from July 1, bringing it to $719.20 a week or $18.93 an hour.

Justice Iain Ross, FWC.

The 3.5 percent increase, which will also apply to all modern award wages, is only half of the unions’ requested $50 boost but almost double the $12.50 rise employers argued for. It will affect 2.3 million Australians currently being paid award wages. Justice Iain Ross, president of the Fair Work Commission, cited a healthy economy and labour market as factors in the decision. “The circumstances are such that it is appropriate to provide a real wage increase to those employees who have their wages set by the national minimum wage or by a modern award,” he said.

Sally McManus, ACTU secretary, welcomed the decision and said the unions would continue pushing to peg the minimum wage at 60 percent of the median wage, as set by the OECD. “We have to change the rules on the minimum wage,” she said. “People who have been forced into poverty by the inadequacy of this wage should not have to wait every year to see if they will be saved by the Fair Work Commission. The minimum wage should be set to keep pace with wages.”

Paul Mitchell, PIAA

Printing Industries, however, expressed concern with the FWC’s decision, which does not link wage growth to productivity increases. According to Paul Mitchell, industrial relations manager at PIAA, the prevailing economic circumstances for businesses make it very hard to employ people and provide wage growth unless it is linked to productivity. “With high taxes, high energy costs and now higher labour costs, doing business in Australia has never been harder,” he said. “We will examine over the coming weeks the impact on this rise on our industry, but already we know it’s going to be tough for some businesses to cope with, especially small businesses and particularly those in regional and rural Australia.”

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