Catholic employer group claims National Minimum Wage ‘manifestly inadequate’

Catholic employer group claims National Minimum Wage ‘manifestly inadequate’

The Australian Catholic Council for Employment Relations (ACCER) will today call on Fair Work Australia to increase the national minimum wage (NMW), claiming that current standards amount to ‘poverty wages’ for low income working families.
The announcement will be made at the launch of the organisation’s Minimum Wage Submission, which takes place today, ahead of Fair Work Australia’s Annual Wage Review for 2012.

ACCER’s submission focuses on the needs of the low paid alongside relative living standards, claiming that the current NMW does not allow for all Australians to achieve a decent standard of living. It states that the setting of safety net wages over the past decade has failed low paid workers and their families, leading to social exclusion, highlighting in particular the impact that wage policies have on Australian families.

ACCER’s Minimum Wage Submission proposes:

Award Wages:

  • A percentage increase to reflect Consumer Price Index increases over the past year, which are expected to be about 2.0% by the time of the wage hearing.
  • A further increase of 1.0% on account of productivity over recent years, with further productivity-based increases to be considered in subsequent wage cases.
  • The percentage increases be converted to a flat money amount for wage rates below the trades-qualified rate.  At a combined 3.0% increase, this would amount to $20.60 per week for low paid workers.

National Minimum Wage:

  • That the current NMW of $589.30 per week be raised over time, to match the base cleaner’s classification rate of pay, currently $629.50.
  • That this target rate be adopted pending the completion of a research program designed to identify the needs of workers and their families.
  • To adjust the NMW in 2012 in a similar way to award wages and that it be adjusted by a further amount of $10.00 per week.
  • That the cost of this first step towards a decent National Minimum Wage would be insignificant.

Today’s launch event will be attended by keynote speaker John Buchanan, Professor and Director, Sydney University Business School, who supports ACCER’s contention that quantifying the needs of low paid workers and their families is a crucial research activity in the setting of fair minimum wages.

Brian Lawrence, Chairman of the Australian Catholic Council for Employment Relations said:

‘Fair Work Australia has a statutory obligation to inquire into the needs of the low paid in the setting of fair minimum wages. ACCER has for years maintained that better wages and conditions of employment are absolutely essential if we are to deal with the unacceptable degree of family and social dysfunction that we now have in Australia.  We are looking for strong support from the Commonwealth Government because without better wages its policies to promote the social inclusion of low paid working families will mean nothing.’ 

Anthony Farley, Executive Director of the Catholic Commission for Employment Relations (CCER), the state body representing NSW/ACT employers, added;

‘Catholic Social Teaching says that all workers have the right to wages that will support their families at a decent standard of living. The current minimum wage does not provide this, which is simply unacceptable. This is a growing social problem that won’t go away. A slash and burn approach to the low paid is nothing more than a race to the bottom.’

The Catholic Church is one of the biggest employers in Australia, with over 150,000 employees across health, aged care, education, welfare and administration. ACCER is a council of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference.  CCER represents the interests of Catholic employers in NSW and the ACT through advocacy, support and training in workplace relations matters.

ENDS.

Press Contact: Rebecca Smith, Communications Officer CCER: 0411 660 800 / rebecca.smith@ccer.catholic.org.au

Notes to Editor: Brian Lawrence, Chairman of the Australian Catholic Council for Employment Relations (ACCER) and Anthony Farley, Executive Director of the Catholic Commission for Employment Relations (CCER) are available for interviews.

A full copy of the report will be available on request.


About ACCER

The Australian Catholic Council for Employment Relations advises the Bishops Commission for Administration and Information on:

-The promotion of the life and mission of the Catholic Church in Australia in the area of work and the employment relationship.

-Matters relating to work and the employment relationship in areas of Catholic Church employment.

-Advocacy in support of work and the employment relationship in Australian society, based on Catholic Social Doctrine and in co-operation with the Bishops Commission for Health and Community Service and the Bishops Commission for Justice and Development.

About CCER
The Catholic Commission for Employment Relations (CCER) is a not for profit organisation that provides Catholic employers with expert advice, support and training on employment relations matters. CCER works with Catholic employers to create workplaces of innovation and excellence that are imbued with dignity, justice and the Gospel message.

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