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Minimum wage: minimal rise

Fair Work Australia’s decision on the minimum wage is disappointing. Australia’s lowest paid workers will receive a $17.10 a week increase, which lifts the minimum wage to just $606.40 a week or $15.96 an hour from 1 July.

ACTU Secretary Dave Oliver said the Annual Wage Review panel’s decision to grant an increase of 2.9% to award wages meant the one-in-six workers dependent on award rates would barely keep pace with the cost of living, let alone the rest of the workforce.

“This year’s decision will only widen the gap between minimum wage earners and the rest of the workforce,” Mr Oliver said. “Over the past half-a-decade the incomes of the 1.4 million workers who depend on award wages have virtually stood still, after inflation is taken into account. Average wages have grown by more than 10 times the rate of minimum wages since 2005. Every year those on minimum wages slip further behind, the more we will see a working poor become entrenched in Australia.”

Mr Oliver said the minimum wage case run by unions was the only opportunity award-dependent workers have to secure a pay rise, saying that since 2005, the real value of the minimum wage (adjusted for inflation) had only increased by less than 1%, meanwhile average wages increased by 12%.

“Unions will continue to advocate for the lowest-paid in our economy because it is a measure of a fair society that all workers have a decent safety net,” Mr Oliver said.

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