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Unions welcome increase in federal minimum wage

WA’s peak union body UnionsWA has welcomed a decision by Fair Work Australia to increase minimum wages by $26 a week.

The first decision from the new Fair Work Australia Minimum Wage Panel is particularly welcome after last year’s wage freeze, a decision made under the WorkChoices system.

The decision last year to give no increase was made in response to employer claims about the threat of unemployment posed by the GFC.   We know now that WA experienced very little of the global financial downturn yet WA minimum wage workers under federal laws have seen no wage increase for two years.

Thousands rally nationwide for equal pay
The Australian Service Union (ASU) has held a very successful national day of action with thousands of people coming together around Australia to call for better pay for people working in the community sector. The vast majority of workers in the sector are women. Across Australian women earn on average 18% less than men but in WA that gap is even wider with women earning an average 27% less than men.
Rallies took place in 17 locations across the country, including an event at Parliament House in Perth, as part of the national day of action for equal pay. It is the biggest Australia-wide rally since the 1970s to fight for equal pay for women.
In Perth, ASU members gathered on the steps of Parliament House and presented two giant sized petitions calling for 'Equal Pay for Equal Work'. The rally was attended by a number of ALP and Greens members of Parliament and candidates as well as by representatives from a variety of WA unions.

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Photos: ASU members in Perth, the giant petitions on the steps of Perth's Parliament House, the Communications, Electrical & Plumbing Union supporting the event with UnionsWA Secretary Simone McGurk.

UnionsWA calls for increase to State Minimum Wage

UnionsWA has called for Western Australia’s State Minimum Wage to increase by 5.5%.

The current weekly minimum for adults is $569.70 per week, or $14.99 per hour. An increase of 5.5% would bring the weekly wage to $601, or $15.82 per hour.

The UnionsWA Submission points out that in 2009, the WA Industrial Relations Commission only increased the minimum wage by $12.30 per week, and delayed even that increase for three months because of ‘adverse State and national economic environments’.

Unions respond to dishonest mining company scare campaign

Unions are continuing to fight back against the dishonest scare campaign being run by the mining companies and the Liberal/National Party Coalition over the Resource Super Profits Tax (RSPT). The AWU has launched a TV ad calling on the mining industry to accept that it is time to put something backing into Australian communities.

The AWU National Secretary, Paul Howes, has accused Tony Abbott of attempting to buy government by siding with the interests of the wealthy multinationals – rather than backing Australians who want a fair share of the country’s resources to build a decent nation for this generation, and their children and grand-children.

Abbott reaffirms commitment to WorkChoices in budget reply

In delivering a budget reply that was short on detail and long on rhetoric, Opposition leader Tony Abbott has again stated his commitment to reintroduce key aspects of John Howard’s WorkChocies legislation. Despite what they have said to the contrary, the current Liberal leadership have obviously not learnt the lessons of 2007 when voters made it abundantly clear that Australians do not want an unjust and unfair employment relations system by emphatically voting for a change of government over the issue.

Trade Unions write to the PM about Australia's treatment of Refugees

20 Trade Unions and affiliated organisation leaders have endorsed a letter to the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and all Members of Parliament.

The letter expresses their concerns at the growing stance of indifference towards asylum seekers by both sides of politics, calls for Australia to follow its obligations under international law and details the real security threats in Afghanistan and Sri Lanka.

See below for the full text of the letter or visit the APHEDA website here.

Unions slam large mining companies over tax ‘scare campaign’ and say resource super profits tax will benefit all Australian workers

The Federal Government has revealed in its much-anticipated response to the Henry tax review that it will lift compulsory superannuation contributions from 9 to 12 per cent by 2020. It will also increase tax on the 'super profits' of mining companies to ensure more of the profits made from Australian resources stay in Australia. 

While millions of Australians are set to reap higher retirement savings and benefit through greater investment in infrastructure, large mining companies have criticised the reform saying that the super profits tax will adversely affect jobs and the Australian economy. But Tony Maher, the national president of the CFMEU, says the tax on above-normal profits is a good thing and will have no effect on job security. "Nobody's job is at risk as a result of this tax. I think the scare campaign the mining companies are running is disgraceful," he said.

Unions are concerned about BHP's safety record after tragic death at WA mine

UnionsWA is calling for the release of a safety report into BHP Billiton's Perseverance nickel mine at Leinster after a worker died on site after the underground truck he was driving fell 18 metres down a shaft.
It took rescuers almost 24 hours to get to the 45-year-old truck driver, who was already dead. Operations on the mine have been suspended.
This tragic incident is the third accident on the mine in the last 10 months. Last year the mine was temporarily closed after three workers were trapped underground for several hours in two separate rockfall incidents.

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