Fair Work Australia’s decision last month to increase minimum wages by 2.9 per cent means that nation’s lowest paid workers will see an increase of $17.10 per week to $606.40 per week. According to Fair Work Australia the increase will equate to almost $900 a year for a full time minimum wage earner.
National minimum wage orders are made by the Minimum Wage Panel of Fair Work Australia and reviewed annually. An employee’s basic rate of pay depends on such things as their age, job classification, modern award, workplace agreement and so on.
The increase of the minimum wage is not only beneficial to the low paid full time workers. With a recent report revealing that a majority of apprentices in the manufacturing industry have contemplated quitting their jobs because of poor wages, the new wage increase is good news for them too. The national minimum wage for apprentices now varies from $10.22 to $17.65 depending on the year of the apprenticeship.
“It’s the Gillard Government’s fundamental belief that Australian workers deserve a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work,” said Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer Wayne Swan.
“In our submission to the independent umpire, the Government asked Fair Work Australia to ensure its decision reflected increases in the cost of living.”
He said the increase was a vote of confidence in the Australian economy, showing its underlying strength amid global uncertainty.
Minister of Employment and Workplace Relations Bill Shorten said, “This real increase in minimum wages will help low income working families manage cost of living pressures. The minimum wage increases are an important reminder that a fair and balanced workplace relations system, underpinned by a simple, stable, safety net, is important for all working Australians. This Government will always ensure that low paid workers and all working Australians get a fair go.”
The Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS) chief executive Dr Cassandra Goldie has been campaigning for the pay gap in Australia to decrease. “ACOSS has called for the growing gap between minimum wages and middle earnings to be reduced. From 1996 to 2010 the federal minimum wage fell from around 60 per cent to 54 per cent of median full time earnings,” Goldie said.