Title

Govt takes on business over minimum wage

Database

Electronic Media Monitoring Service 

Date

17-05-2010 08:04 AM

Source

ABC Canberra 666

Parl No.

 

Channel Name

ABC Canberra 666

Start

17-05-2010 08:04 AM

Abstract

 
End

17-05-2010 08:44 AM

Cover date

2010-05-17 08:04:15

Citation Id

324616

Enrichment

 
Reporter

TREMBATH, Brendan

Speaker

LANE, Sabra

URL

Open Item 

Parent Program URL
Text online

No

Media Deleted

False

System Id

emms/emms/324616

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Govt takes on business over minimum wage -

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The Federal Government and business lobby groups differ on what kind of pay increase Australia's
lowest-paid workers should receive. The Government's post-budget submission to Fair Work Australia
says there should be a considered real increase in minimum wages, that Australians are entitled to
share in the benefits of the economic recovery. The ACTU says it's interpreting that as endorsement
of its push for 'catch up pay'.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: The Federal Government and big business have been feuding for weeks over the idea
of a resource super profits tax. Now they differ on what kind of pay increase Australia's
lowest-paid workers should receive.

The Government's post-budget submission to Fair Work Australia says there should be a considered
real increase in minimum wages, that Australians are entitled to share in the benefits of the
economic recovery.

The ACTU says it's interpreting that as endorsement of its push for "catch-up pay". And big
business is unhappy.

From Canberra, Sabra Lane reports.

SABRA LANE: Australia's 1.4 million lowest-paid workers missed out on a pay increase last year
because the Fair Pay Commission thought businesses were struggling in the wake of the global
financial crisis.

The Government's new regulator, Fair Work Australia has a special panel to consider what rise, if
any, workers should get this year. It'll hold public hearings in Melbourne this week to consider
post-budget submissions.

The ACTU says workers deserve catch-up pay of $27 a week, to make up for the pay freeze they've
effectively had over the past two years. Previously, the Government's been careful to avoid
endorsing that view. But in the Government's revised submission on the case, it says there "should
be a considered real increase that reflects the cost of living since the last wage rise". And that
working Australians are entitled to share in the benefits of economic recovery.

The Employment and Workplace Relations Minister Julia Gillard was unavailable for interview this
morning. The ACTU secretary, Jeff Lawrence was, he says the Government's statement endorses the
union's idea of catch-up pay.

JEFF LAWRENCE: I read it as supporting the principle and it's an important principle. It's
important that there are regular reasonable adjustments of minimum wages and that people can plan
for that.

I just think it's the right thing to do. The Government has recognised that minimum-wage workers
need protection. We have less than 20 per cent of the workforce now who are dependent on award
wages directly. And that's a big change from say 20 years ago.

And it's those people who've got the least bargaining power in the economy and in the workforce and
it's very important they're protected. The mechanism to do that is this case and we need to have a
balance.

SABRA LANE: The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry says workers should get a $10.50 to
$12.50 a week rise. Its chief is Peter Anderson.

PETER ANDERSON: Well having set up an arbitration system, the Government really should take more of
a neutral position in these cases, particularly bearing in mind that the Government's submission if
taken to its logical conclusion, argues for an increase above the inflation rate bearing in mind
that this case concerns not the big end of town but small and medium businesses which are in the
slow lane of a two-speed economic recovery.

SABRA LANE: Mr Anderson says the Government should be mindful of its own argument, with the mining
industry about the super profits tax about a two-speed economy.

PETER ANDERSON: The Government is in the middle of a major dispute with the mining industry because
it's arguing that there is a two-speed economy in Australia.

Now the Government needs to recognise that in this case that those small businesses which are not
yet sharing in the benefits of economic recovery in Australia are equally entitled to their day in
court, and not to have their day in court muddied by the Government arguing for real increases with
no productivity link.

SABRA LANE: The minimum wage is currently about $545 a week.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: Sabra Lane.