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News Media Releases Unions blast State Government and CCI over stingy minimum wage position
Unions blast State Government and CCI over stingy minimum wage position
Tuesday, 31 May 2011 08:42

Media Release    31 May 2011

WA unions have today lashed out at the State Government and employer groups saying that their stingy recommendations for an inadequate increase to WA’s minimum wage are likely to force more WA families below the poverty line.

UnionsWA has said that rising household costs have left many families and award-dependent workers desperately in need of a fair increase to WA’s minimum wage from this week’s state wage case hearing.

UnionsWA Secretary Simone McGurk has said that the State Government and the CCI’s responses are particularly disappointing given the recent focus in the media on increases in utility rates and other household costs. “A lot of low paid, award-dependent workers in WA are really doing it tough at the moment. Utility prices are increasing dramatically, petrol prices continue to rise as does rent. For families trying to get by on award wages, these increases represent a very significant percentage of their weekly wage.”

“The median weekly house rent in WA is currently almost 65% of the weekly minimum wage. On top of this, utility prices in Perth have already increased 44.9% since 2008 with further increases to come from the most recent state budget. It’s particularly galling that the State Government is raising utility prices on the one hand yet refusing to support a decent minimum wage increase so that people can afford these price hikes.”

Dwes [pron. d-wes] Dann works at the Yorgum Aboriginal Corporation and says he is an example of someone on an award wage who is holding out for a fair wage increase. “The cost of living is getting so high – I’m trying to make a living but I’m struggling to make ends meet.”

The Employment Law Centre (ELC) has also expressed concern that the current minimum wage leaves families below the poverty line. The ELC quote the most recent Henderson poverty line which states that the poverty line for a family of two adults, one of whom is working, with two dependent children is $803.79.  At just $587.20, the current WA minimum wage leaves families a long way below the poverty line.

Unions have also expressed concern that WA’s gender pay gap continues to rise. WA already had the biggest gender pay gap in the country at 25.6% in 2010 and the most recent figures show that it has again increased and is now at 27.7%. Given that women are over-represented in low paid jobs, Ms McGurk said that a decent increase in the minimum wage was an essential step towards addressing the pay gap. “The increasing gap between men and women’s pay in WA is shameful. We know that many low paid workers are women and a fair increase to the minimum wage is essential if we are serious about addressing this shocking gender pay discrepancy.”

“For the CCI and the state government to recommend the inadequate increases they have in light of the current situation many WA workers find themselves in is incredibly callous. It demonstrates just how out of touch they are with the tough reality that many WA workers and their families are struggling to keep their heads above water.”

UnionsWA is calling for a $29 a week or a 5% increase to the WA minimum wage. This amount is supported by the Employment Law Centre and WACOSS.

Simone McGurk and Dwes Dann are available for comment.

For more information contact: Madeleine Holme, Campaigns and Communications Officer, UnionsWA, 0417 060 360


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