IRC application lodged on adult apprenticeship wage

THE Chamber of Commerce and Industry has launched an application in the Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission to phase in the new award rate for adult apprentices.

Since June 5 adult apprentices on awards have been paid $406.70, almost double what some had been paid previously.

The chamber mounted the application on September 11 to phase in the full increase starting from a minimum of $285, increasing to $315 on January 31 2004 and rising to $406.70 from June 5 2004.

Consumer and Employment Protection Minister John Kobelke lodged a submission supporting the phasing in of the adult apprentice wage, however he wanted the final increase to $406.70 to be brought forward to March 31 2004.

The reason for the March 31 2004 date was to leave room for a further increase when the next State wage case was heard, he said.

UnionsWA also put in a submission opposing the move, saying that employers were not using a mechanism in the wage fixing rules that allowed them to plead incapacity to pay the increase.

The commission is yet to hand down its determination.

Chamber of Commerce and Industry industrial relations services director Geoff Blyth said the CCI did not support Mr Kobelke’s recommended change.

He said the $406.70 should come in on June 5 2004 and the State wage case should take care of itself.

Mr Blyth said some adult apprentices had been on around $225 a week and, with the new rate, they had found themselves priced out of the market.

“The essence of our argument was that the commission made the change without all of the information in front of it,” he said.

Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union lawyer Tim Kucera, who ran the UnionWA argument in the commission, said Department of Training figures showed the main industries feeling the pinch from the increase were bakeries and the building and construction industry.

“What we’re saying is if these people are saying they can’t pay the increase, they should open their books and prove it,” he told WA Business News.

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