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Lowest paid workers get a $19.40 wage rise, but still not enough to bridge gap

Today’s decision by Fair Work Australia to grant a 3.4% increase to the one in six workers who are dependent on awards will allow Australia’s lowest paid workers to keep pace with the cost of living, but not with the rest of the workforce.

The Annual Wage Review decision will lift the National Minimum Wage by $19.40 a week to $589.30 or $15.51 an hour from 1 July, and means that in real terms, the minimum wage has finally recovered from WorkChoices.

A decision on the WA state wage case is expected next week.

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Use mining boom to support future

Article from The Australia by Tony Maher (national president of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union):

It's no secret that mining is big business. Australian Bureau of Statistics figures released last week listed the mining sector as having the biggest profit margin of any Australian industry at 33.4 per cent. In the financial year ending 2010, mining companies earned $1.06 million a worker again, higher than any other industry.

Fuelled by the industrial revolutions in India and China, Australia's boom is bound to continue to grow for at least the next three decades. Eventually it will end. If we are smart, we will have something substantial to show for it.

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Australia says YES to putting a price on carbon pollution!

It was great to see so many people at the Perth rally calling for a price on carbon on Sunday the 5th of June! 3000 people attended the Perth event with 45,000 people attending similar rallies held in capital cities around Australia.

Thank you to all the unions who attended to show their support.

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Photos from the Perth rally


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State budget slashes public sector funding

While the State Government was busy promoting its increase in funding to the non-profit sector in last week’s state budget, it was far quieter about its plans to slash public sector spending by more than $800 million.

This will be done through $300 million worth of cuts to public sector programs and a further 5% “efficiency dividend” for Government Trading Enterprises such as Water Corp and Homeswest,  amounting to an expected $515 million funding cut. A large portion of the cuts are expected to be met by reducing wage costs and shedding jobs.

Unions have strongly rejected Treasurer Christian Porter’s assertion that the cuts will not undermine services. UnionsWA Secretary Simone McGurk said Porter’s statement was completely without evidence. “It is entirely unbelievable that you can cut programs, staff numbers and pay without impacting on service standards.

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WA unions welcome Federal Budget investment in training and local content – will the Barnett Govt follow suit?

WA unions have welcomed the increased investment in training outlined in the federal budget. In particular, investment in skilled apprenticeships and measures to improve apprenticeship completion rates will have a positive effect in WA. Given the demand for skilled tradespeople in WA, initiatives that ensure WA workers are properly trained and in the best possible position to take advantage of the resource boom are welcome developments.

UnionsWA also welcomes an acknowledgement that local content from resource projects needs to improve with the announcement of $34 million to help Australian manufacturers win more from big resource projects. Let's hope the Barnett Government follows suit and acknowledges that concrete measures are required if we are going to get better outcomes for local business.

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Join the UnionsWA team in the 2011 Mother's Day Classic

The Mother’s Day Classic is an annual charity walk and run in aid of breast cancer research. As in previous years, union members along with their friends and family, have entered a UnionsWA team. The Perth event involves a 4km and 8km walk and run around Langley Park.

 The UnionsWA team will walk together in the 4km Perth Mother’s Day Classic this Sunday. There is also a 4km and an 8km run for those people feeling extra fit!

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See below for info on how to get involved...

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WA unions talk the walk with graduate students

WA unionists were spreading the word on rights at work at the ‘Big Meet’ Career Day last Tuesday, where over 2,600 graduates, students and job-seekers were testing the water before they start their full-time working lives.

People just starting out on their careers are often vulnerable to bad recruitment practices and being forced to accept worse conditions than other workers. Having a union presence at events such as the ‘Big Meet’ is important for ensuring that new employees learn about the role of unions before they have any problems at work.

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Staff from a number of WA unions discussing working conditions with graduates at the Big Meet Career Day

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Australian workers say yes to action on climate change for our future

 Australian workers want urgent action on climate change with more than 11,000 signing a petition supporting a price on carbon within a fortnight.

The ACTU along with WWF-Australia will today hand the first part of the petition to Climate Change Minister Greg Combet to show there is strong support from working Australians for a price on pollution.

“The people who have signed this petition are the silent majority of Australians who care about the nation’s future and are not fooled by Tony Abbott’s scare campaign,” said ACTU President Ged Kearney.

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