Minimum wage increases as Unions fight public sector wage freeze




Today the Fair Work Commission confirmed that wage growth is essential to economic recovery. The National Wage Case decision has been handed down and the minimum wage will increase by 1.75%, a week to $19.84 per hour.

The increase is modest and below what was sought by the ACTU, but it is clear that this panel of experts recognise that cutting wages in the middle of this crisis would be a disaster for working people and the economy. They have rejected the arguments to freeze the minimum wage.

The majority of Commissioners recognised that increased wages has a positive impact on aggregate demand and is one of the fastest and most effective form of economic stimulus available to the government.

We hope that the NSW Industrial Relations Commission takes a similar view when considering public sector pay cuts.

Thanks to the great work of NSW unions we defeated the Government’s attempt to force the a wage freeze for public sector workers through Parliament. We had hoped that the Government would honour its own wages policy and pay the 2.5% salary increase to all NSW public sector workers from 1 July.

But the Government is currently fighting us in the Industrial Relations Commission to attempt to impose the pay cut.

Yesterday the unions argued before the Full Bench of the NSW Industrial Relations Commission that the Government’s policy and regulation requires that increases of 2.5% in salary be awarded to public sector employees each year.

In addition, we argued that in the current economic circumstances, a 2.5% increase is a fair and reasonable as an appropriate balance between the fiscal requirements of government and the maintenance of fair working conditions for employees.

Today’s announcement is a positive sign that our argument may be accepted. The hearing continues on 24 and 25 June.