The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) will today lodge a 4% pay claim for Australias lowest paid workers. If the claim is granted by the Australian Industrial Relations Commission (AIRC) it would lift the minimum wage for full time adult workers to above $500 a week for the first time.

Lodging the claim at the Industrial Relations Commission in Melbourne today, ACTU Secretary Greg Combet said:

Petrol prices and other rises in the cost of living are putting working families under pressure. Many working people are struggling just to keep their heads above water and yet the Howard Government is offering no prospect of an increase in award wages for at least 18 months.

Instead the Government wants to gut the Industrial Relations Commission and take away its power to increase minimum wages for Australias 1.6 million award workers.

The only reason the Government is making these changes is to keep wages low and to deny hotel workers, cleaners, retail workers and hundreds of thousands of other award dependant employees decent pay increases for their hard work.

Unions are seeking a 4% pay rise in this wage case because this is the amount that wages throughout the economy have increased in recent times (ie Wage Price Index).

A 4% increase represents a pay rise of $19.38 a week for people on the minimum wage lifting it to $503.80 a week.

This moderate increase would maintain the value of minimum wages relative to other workers.

The ACTU typically lodges a wage claim on behalf of low-paid Australians at around this time every year so it is not unusual timing for the AIRC to begin a wage case now.

What is unusual is the gun that the Howard Government has put to the head of Industrial Relations Commission with its plan to take away the Commissions power to improve award wages and conditions and to set up instead a rival body a so-called Fair Pay Commission.

Award workers deserve a decent pay rise and they deserve to have their wage cases heard by an independent umpire not a Government-appointed kangaroo court as the Fair Pay Commission is bound to be.

The ACTU will argue that the 4% pay rise is modest and affordable. The economy is performing strongly with unemployment at 5%, GDP growth at 2.3%, job participation up to highest on record and company profits are also up 6.3% for the year.

Pay Rises for Federal Parliamentarians

Salaries for federal politicians are pegged to the AWOTE index and are
adjusted annually from 1 July each year by the Remuneration Tribunal.

Pay rise
Parliamentarian base salary
Cabinet Minister’s salary
Treasurer’s salary
PM salary
1 July 2003
1 July 2004
1 July 2005

More information:

Download – Minimum Wage Case – September 2005 ACTU Fact Sheet