Unions have won Australias 1.6 million low paid workers a pay increase of $19 a week with todays decision by the AIRC in the National Minimum Wage Case.

ACTU Secretary Greg Combet said:

“Without the union movement pushing for increases in minimum wages 1.6 million low paid Australians would miss out on any pay rise at all.

This decision means low paid workers and their families will take home a bit extra in their pockets each week. It will help make their lives a little bit easier.

Hotel workers, cleaners, childcare workers, waiters, bar attendants and many other casual and part time workers will benefit from this pay rise.

Today’s pay rise of $19 brings the weekly minimum wage up to $467.40.

For the first time the minimum wage has broken through the ceiling of $12 an hour.

However, the decision by the AIRC is a cautious one given the current strength of the Australian economy.

The ACTU believed that a more substantial increase of up to $26.60 a week was justified.

Nevertheless we are pleased with the result.

The Commission’s decision however is a clear rebuff for employer groups and the Federal Government.

Employer groups and the Federal Government supported a pay rise of a miserly $10 a week — almost half the amount awarded today.

There are over half a million working families with cash flow problems and around 90,000 people in work who are forced to rely on charities and welfare organisations because they can’t make ends meet.

Today’s decision is another step in the campaign by unions to bring wages up to a level where all working people, including the low paid, can afford a decent standard of living.”