ACTU calls for $26-a-week minimum wage rise

By: Troy Bilsborough


ACTU Secretary Jeff Lawrence announced Unions will seek a $26 a week pay rise for 1.6 million Australian workers that

ACTU Secretary Jeff Lawrence announced Unions will seek a $26 a week pay rise for 1.6 million Australian workers that rely on minimum award wages in this year’s national Minimum Wage Case.

Lawrence says a $26 a week pay rise for the low paid is economically responsible and will not add to inflation.

In an address to the National Press Club, Lawrence also called for a curb on executive salaries, proposing an end to tax deductibility for salaries over $1 million.

He blames rising household and living costs, Work Choices and an inequitable square of the mining and resources boom on the need for higher wages.

"More than a million low paid workers went backwards in real terms by up to $44 a week or $2,200 a year over the last three years, according to ACTU research.

"While in 2007 the Fair Pay Commission gave minimum award wage workers only $10 a week, it was recently revealed that Professor Ian Harper, head of the Fair Pay Commission personally got a pay rise of $38,000 a year, a 47 percent increase and 16 times the rate of inflation.

He also accused corporate executives and directors of widening the socioeconomic gap, citing salary rises at an "astronomical" rate of 30 percent in the last 12 months.

"Cutting the wages of shop assistants, cleaners or workers in factories and call centres, will do nothing to increase productive capacity in the economy generally, nor to restrain inflation.

The ACTU $26 a week claim would raise the current Federal Minimum Wage from $522.12 to $548.12 a week - up to $14.42 an hour.

The increase in the minimum award wage for people at the tradesperson’s rate would be 4.2 percent — equal to other wage movements (Wage Price Index) over the period 2005 to 2008.

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