Fair Work Approves ‘Modest’ 3.5% Minimum Wage Rise
The Fair Work Commission has today granted a 3.5% increase in weekly minimum wage to $719.20 and $18.93/hour. Considered a ‘modest’ lift by unions, some commentators assert the increase does not align with Australia’s current economy, and could result in jobs cuts.
As part of the commission’s annual review, minimum wage workers will receive a $24.30/week increase from July 1st.
The rise is less than half of what the ACTU pushed for – a record $50/per week pay increase.
ACTU secretary, Sally McManus, claims the increase is a “step forward to a living wage” but is still “not a living wage”.
Fair Work Commission: The increase we’ve decided on won’t lead to inflationary pressure. We’ve decided it’s appropriate to increase the national minimum wage by 3.5 per cent. The new minimum wage will be $719.20 a week or $18.93 an hour.
— Sky News Australia (@SkyNewsAust) 1 June 2018
Despite this, McManus affirms it’s the highest percentage increase ever awarded by the commission.
As per The Australian, Chief Executive of the Australian Industry Group, Innes Willox, asserts the “excessive” wage increase could harm employment.
She affirms the wage rise is “out of step” with the Australian economy, inflation and other financial pressures currently faced by local businesses.
“While the FWC describes the 3.5 per cent increase it has awarded as ‘modest’, it is well above inflation and it is not supported by improved productivity.”
“Australia already had the second-highest national minimum wage in the world, and today’s decision runs the risk of further harming the competitiveness of Australian businesses,” Willox adds.
Willox claims for many SMEs there’s now a significant disincentive to increase staff, or award more hours.
The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) also agrees the wage hike may result in staff cuts, and have a negative effect on local business growth.
ARA Executive Director, Russell Zimmerman, asserts Australia’s minimum wage rate is “well above inflation” and has the potential to decrease retail growth and innovation.