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News Media Releases Unions argue for catch up for state’s lowest paid
Unions argue for catch up for state’s lowest paid
Tuesday, 01 June 2010 17:08

Media Release 1  June 2010

WA’s peak union body UnionsWA has argued for a $31 per week pay rise for the state’s lowest paid, saying that the increase must protect workers from rising costs of living.

The union claim for a $31.33, or a 5.5% increase in the WA minimum wage addresses the need to compensate for higher costs of living in WA, particularly increases in utilities and housing. The case was heard in the WA Industrial Relations Commission today.

In the 12 months to March 2010 utilities in WA have increased by 20% (19.9%) and the cost of housing has been pushed up by successive interest rate rises.

The State Government’s own estimate is that the WA economy is forecast to grow from 2.25% in the current financial year to 4% in 2011 – 12 and 4.47% in 2012-13.

In their Outlook for the March Quarter 2010, the CCIWA says the WA economy is ‘firmly on the path to recovery’. Their forecast for average earnings growth in WA is 4.5% in 2009-10, 5% in 2010-11 and 6% in 2012–13.

While the union claim would retain WA’s minimum wages as higher than the national average, so too are WA wages.  As a percentage of average full-time weekly earnings, WA’s minimum rate is the lowest in the country.

The current WA Minimum Wage is $569.70 per week, or $14.99 per hour for adults aged 21 or over.  The union increase would take the rate to $15.81, or $601. This increase will apply to all employees on award or minimum rates in the state industrial relations system – that is those employed by unincorporated small business.  The Government estimates that up to 38,500 Western Australians are expected to receive the increase arising from this decision.

“Last year the CCI argued that no increase should be paid, and in fact the industrial commission agreed to delay the increase by three months because of the concern of the GFC,” UnionsWA Secretary Simone McGurk said.  “We now know that the GFC had very little impact in WA yet minimum rate workers were given a minimal and delayed increase. 
“In 2010 we are seeing a significant increase in the cost of living in WA, driven largely by growth in the resources sector.  Minimum wage workers get none of the benefits of wages growth but do have to endure higher costs of living. Anyone paying an electricity bill knows this,”   Ms McGurk said.

For comment, please contact Simone McGurk 0407 199 890   UnionsWA 08 9328 7877 

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