Australia has approved a 2.5-percent pay jump to the prevailing salaries of its 1.8 million minimum wage earners. As expected, businesses and workers’ unions slammed the figure.
The 2.5-percent pay hike translates to $17.29 an hour, or $656.90 a week. The Australian Council of Trades Unions (ACTU) had wanted a $27-a-week jump, while the businesses led by the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) pushed for $5.70 a week. The Australian Industry Group lobbied for a week pay rise of $10.25.
The pay increase was “extremely disappointing” because it only widens the gap between average weekly earnings and minimum wage, Dave Oliver, ACTU secretary, said. Jenny Lambert, ACCI’s director of employment, education and training, said the 2.5 percent pay jump was “too high,” claiming most small businesses already run on lean margins. Russell Zimmerman, Australian Retailers Association executive director, believed the increase was already reasonable.
The weekly minimum wage takes effect on July 1. It is still lower than the $18.70-an-hour effected in 2014.
Gamal Babiker, a minimum-wage earner who works for the Broadmeadows shopping center as a cleaner, said the measly pay hike “barely covers the cost of an extra cup of coffee every day.”
“The increase we have determined is consistent with the promotion of social inclusion through increased workforce participation and is also compatible with the need to encourage collective bargaining,” Iain Ross, justice at the Fair Work Commission, which is the independent body in charge of ruling on workplace relations, said.
Australia’s rate of $17.29 an hour, or $656.90 a week, is still considered as one of the highest minimum wage levels in the world.