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National Wage Case decision

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PRESS release NO. 53




The T r e a s u r e r M r . Phillip Lynch, expressed disappointment at

today's decision of the Conciliation and Arbitration-Commission in the "latest" national wage case. . ~

Mr. Lynch said it was widely acknowledged that the. state of the

economy required that every effort be made to restrain wage and price increases. .

This was reflected in the call on· 13 April by the Prime Minister and the six State Premiers for a voluntary wage/price pause for

a period of three months. , .....

In the Commonwealth's view the price pause had been working well. .

Employers had been solidly behind it. . .

There was ready evidence of this in the price tags in the shops.

For .its part, the Commonwealth had adhered scrupulously to its

agreement not to raise prices or charges under its control.

It has been prepared to continue doing so for as long as the

pause lasted. . .

It was therefore particularly unfortunate, Mr. Lynch said, that

the Commission had not seen its way clear to bringing down a

. decision in respect of wages that would have ensured continuation of the pause.. '



The course of action suggested by Public Service Arbitrator Taylor,

in dissenting from the majority decision, would have contributed

significantly towards a further winding down of inflation.

The Bench had, in effect, chosen to turn its back on the widespread

community support for a continuation of the-pause.

While it was gratifying that the Commission had accepted the

argument of the Commonwealth that price rises attributable to

devaluation should not flow through into award wages, Mr. Lynch

believed that the Commission should have gone much further in the

direction of wage restraint - restraint for which the need was

so widely recognized. , »â–  ■

The Commission's decision was equivalent to about 77 per cent

of full indexation and could be expected to add approximately $ 185 million to the quarterly wages bill.

At a time when restraint in wages growth was an important determinant of employers1 ability to add to their labour forces,

an increase of this magnitude in the wages bill would make the Government's task in securing economic recovery that much more

difficult. . . . .

24 May, 1977.