Politicians should do more to limit outrageous executive salaries and bonuses and support low income workers, say unions.

The 3% pay rise for federal politicians announced today amounts to an increase of more than $75 a week for the average backbencher.

It contrasts unfairly with the pay freeze imposed on more than one million low paid workers by the so-called Fair Pay Commission, said ACTU Secretary Jeff Lawrence.

It also highlights the failure of Federal Parliamentarians to pass a new law last week that would help limit excessive termination payouts for chief executives said Mr Lawrence.

“A $75 a week pay rise is nice work if you can get it,” said Mr Lawrence.

“But it is a slap in the face for workers and unions who have voluntarily negotiated cuts to pay or hours of work to help companies get through the current economic downturn.

“There are more than one million hard working Australians on minimum award wages who are suffering a pay freeze as a result of the recent decision of the so-called Fair Pay Commission that was created under the former Liberal Government’s WorkChoices IR laws.

“It is terribly unfair that low paid workers are bearing the burden of wage restraint.

“More than 200,000 Australians have lost their jobs in the past year, and another 220,000 have seen their hours of work cut as companies cut costs in the toughest economic environment seen for a decade.

“Minimum award wages have been frozen since 1 October 2008 and many low paid working families won’t get a pay rise until at least 1 July 2010 — despite rising prices and increases in the cost of living.

The announcement today of a pay rise for federal politicians also comes after recent reports of outrageous increases in executive pay and termination payouts.

Jeff Lawrence described the $11m termination pay for outgoing Qantas CEO Geoff Dixon and the $4m paid to outgoing Boral CEO Rod Pearse as greedy, hypocritical and unjustified.

“The Australian Senate has been debating an important new law that would give shareholders more say over these exit payments.

But following lobbying from big business, the Coalition is seeking to water down the legislation.

“This Bill must be amended and strengthened to send a clear signal to corporate Australia that excessive pay will no longer be tolerated,” said Mr Lawrence.