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Commission grants $10 pay increase

THE Australian Fair Pay Commission has announced its second wage increase for low paid workers in seven months, granting an increase of $10.26 per week to the standard federal minimum wage. The ruling will affect 850,000 Australian workers, or about 85,000 Western Australian workers, that are pay-scale reliant. The commission awarded the top amount to employees earning less than $700 per week. Those who are on more than $700 a week, or more than $36,000 per year, will get a $5.32 per week in their pay packet. Together with the commission’s December 2006 increase, this latest increase will deliver an extra $37.62 per week to Australia’s lowest paid workers. Commission chair, Professor Ian Harper, said the decision took into account the short time period since the first decision, the strong labour market and economy, the movements in consumer prices and the potential impact on unemployment and inflation. From this point, the commission will release annual minimum wage decisions in July each year, to be implemented in October. An important component of the ruling is a one-off deferral for Australian farm businesses, designed to protect jobs in drought affected regions. Eligible farm businesses can defer passing on the wage increase to its workers for a maximum of 12 months. Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry workplace policy director Peter Anderson said in a statement that wage increases would only be affordable by small and medium businesses if workplace reform continues and WorkChoices was not rolled back. “While we welcome the more moderate nature of today’s increase, we remain concerned that the Fair Pay Commission has ordered another increase when the ink is barely dry on the last increase.” Janelle Macri

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