Wa's Lowest Paid Win $20p/W Pay Increase

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July 10th, 2012

AT LEAST 100,000 of WA's lowest paid workers will soon get a pay rise - with the state's Industrial Relations Commission (IRC) deciding to lift the minimum wage today. The WA IRC this afternoon announced its decision to award a 3.4 per cent increase, which will increase the minimum weekly wage by $20.60 to $627.70, or a minimum hourly working rate of $16.52. The increase will be given to the 100,000 West Australian workers that are covered by State Awards, and those that are already on the minimum wage. UnionsWA was not altogether unhappy with the decision, with the organisation earlier calling for a 5.5 per cent increase.  However, Unions WA secretary Simone McGurk has hit out at the Barnett government and employer groups for being "out of touch" with the working poor "In the face of rising costs of living, employers asked that the lowest paid in WA get a rise of less than thirty cents an hour and the Barnett Government proposed only a forty cent improvement," Ms McGurk said. "The decision by the Commission is disappointing for working people, but at least this independent body is more in touch with reality than the Barnett Government and the Chamber of Commerce. "More working poor people now have to meet rising costs for essentials such as power and housing, largely because the Barnett Government is increasing electricity charges and failing to manage the resources boom." The State Government had been seeking an increase in line with inflation of around 2.5 per cent, while the Chamber of Commerce and Industry was seeking an increase of 1.8 per cent, according to Unions WA. CCIWA chief executive James Pearson today said increasing the state's minimum wage by more than $20 a week will add more costs to businesses at a time when economic conditions are patchy. "Many of the businesses affected by this decision such as hospitality, tourism and retail are already doing it tough in the local two speed economy," Mr Pearson said. "This wage increase will come on top of the impending Carbon Tax, incoming increases to superannuation as well as higher business costs across the supply chain." Mr Pearson added that employers already recognised the need to make sure workers are fairly paid, however if the business is under pressure, the minimum wage increase could have an adverse impact. "The worst possible outcome is that rising wage costs push businesses to breaking point, which could see a cutting back on hours, or a reduction in staff numbers," he said. Earlier this month, Fair Work Australia lifted the national minimum wage by $17.10 a week, less than the $26 the unions were calling for. Around 300,000 West Australians will be affected by this decision.