Gillard backs minimum wage increase

Gillard Government supports minimum wage increase and says it must be in line with living costs and economic changes

Mach 21, 2011

The Federal Government has backed wage rises for award employees and the low-paid and says increases must be in line with living costs and economic changes.

The Government has lodged its submission to Fair Work Australia’s annual wage review, saying the Australian economy is performing strongly enough to justify an increase.

Treasurer Wayne Swan says Fair Work Australia needs to take into account cost of living pressures because many Australians are struggling.

"The Australian economy is performing well and it’s the Government’s strong view that the low paid should not be left behind," Workplace Relations Minister Chris Evans says.

He says wages growth across the economy is contained, along with low inflation and rising productivity.

"These economic indicators show that the economy can afford a fair increase to the wages of the lowest paid," he says.

The ACTU last week called for a $28 increase to the minimum wage from July 1, lifting the weekly rate to $597.90. It also recommended a 4.2 percent increase for award workers.

The Australian Industry Group wants increases limited to $14 and has urged Fair Work Australia to be mindful of the global financial crisis, instability in Japan and the Middle East and recent natural disasters.

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) claims a $9.50 increase in the minimum wage is more than enough.

Its CEO, Peter Anderson, accused the ACTU of "treating Australian small and medium businesses as cash cows ready to be milked".

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