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Minimum wage up 3 per cent, rise of $18.70 a week
June 4, 2014 (Sydney Morning Herald)
Australia's 1.5 million lowest-paid workers will be awarded an $18.70 a week wage rise as the Fair Work Commission tries to reduce inequality in earnings.
The 3 per cent pay rise, lifting the minimum wage to $640.90 a week, or $16.87 an hour, will affect people on the minimum wage and award-rate workers, including Australia's lowest-paid cleaners, retail and hospitality staff, childcare workers, farm labourers and factory workers.
Trade unions and employer groups are outraged — the ACTU, which had pushed for a $27 a week boost, has warned the increase would actually plunge low-paid workers deeper into poverty and would not be sufficient to cushion the blow of federal budget fee hikes for healthcare, education and petrol.
Trade unions argued for an increase from $622.20 to $649.20, up 3.9 per cent.
Dave Oliver, of the ACTU, said that 20 years ago Australia's minimum wage was nearly 60 per cent of average full-time wages, but was now about 43 per cent - the lowest proportion on record.
"This is a real blow to low-income earners," he said.
"Today's decision is going to compound the gap between average wage earners and the minimum wage."