The $18 a week pay rise granted by the Australian Industrial Relations Commission today in the ACTU’s National Wage case was a welcome improvement on the Federal Government’s offer of only $10 a week the ACTU said.

ACTU President Sharan Burrow said the full bench of the Commission had shown some courage in the face of the meanness of the Howard Government.

‘Award workers have not won the lottery but $18 a week will make a difference for many low paid workers,’ Burrow said.

‘The challenge now for Workplace Relations Minister Tony Abbott is to make good on the Government’s promise of further support for working families.’

Burrow said that as a result of today’s decision one million Australian workers will receive $18 more per week than they would have under the Federal Government’s offer. Another seven hundred thousand workers will receive pay rises eighty per cent higher than the Howard Government proposed.

‘We believe the Commission should have awarded more but this is the biggest dollar increase ever for low paid workers and the biggest percentage increase for more than 20 years,’ Ms Burrow said.

The ACTU had sought a $25 a week increase in all award rates. The Federal Government unsuccessfully argued for only $10 a week restricted to employees earning less that $507 a week.

Today’s decision increases the Federal minimum wage from $413.40 per week to $431.40 per week.

Ms Burrow said low paid workers had contributed to Australia’s record productivity growth in recent years and deserved a decent pay rise to keep up with rising interest rates, pharmacy costs, and GST prices.