Minimum wage decision deemed a necessary evil

by 21 Jul 2009

The decision by the Australian Fair Pay Com mission not to increase the minimum wage has been met with mixed reactions over the past week and appears to have been seen by some as a necessary evil to protect jobs.

The decision to maintain the standard Fed eral Minimum Wage at $14.31 per hour ($543.78 per week) is understandable, given the current economic circumstances, said Australian Industry Group Chief Executive Heather Ridout. Other employer groups agreed, saying that the commission had recognised that the best protection for a low- income worker is not necessarily a pay rise but a job. Increasing the minimum wage would have been at the expense of the job prospects of the low-paid, they argued.

However unions say that this decision has placed an onus on employers to do more to prevent job losses of 1.3 million low paid workers.

ACTU president Sharan Burrow described the decision as being based on “dubious economic grounds”.

“Low-paid workers are being made to sac rifice a pay rise over the next 12 months and will struggle to meet their costs of living as a result,” said Burrow. “Employers have a great responsibility to do their part. They can start by cutting excessive executive salaries and stopping the offshoring of local jobs.”


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