The St Vincent de Paul Society has joined the Australian Catholic Council for Employment Relations (ACCER) in calling on Fair Work Australia for an increase in safety net wage rates and the national minimum wage for the nation’s 1.4 million lowest paid workers reports the Catholic Weekly.
With a decision expected in the next couple of weeks, Vinnies’ national council chief executive officer, Dr John Falzon, says the Society supports efforts to ensure paid employees receive secure work hours and that includes fair and equitable rates of pay.
“In recent years the St Vincent de Paul Society has found itself assisting a large number of employed persons, who are still struggling to afford basics such as food, clothing and heating,” he said.
“This tells us they are either employed on a very low wage or they are under-employed.”
In its oral submissions to this year’s Annual Wage Review, ACCER has emphasised the importance of setting wage rates that are based on the needs of low paid workers with family responsibilities.
ACCER chairman Brian Lawrence argued that the National Minimum Wage and other low wage rates have become “poverty wages for low income working families”; and the cause of social exclusion.
Mr Lawrence said that ACCER had “made extensive submissions on the failure of minimum wages to meet price increases, reflect productivity increases and retain relativity with wage outcomes across the community”.
“The March 2012 Consumer Price Index showed an annual increase of 1.6 per cent,” he said.
“Labour productivity increases have been running at no less than 1.0 per cent annually.
“On the basis of these increases, ACCER’s claim is for an increase in safety net wage rates at or above the C10 base trade-qualified rate of 2.6 per cent; an increase of $17.80 per week in safety net wage rates below the C10 rate; and for a further increase of $10.00 per week in the national minimum wage.”
Mr Lawrence said ACCER’s main objective in this and past annual wage reviews has been the increased support of families through the wage packet “because we know that employment in work which pays a decent wage will promote the proper care of children; the stability of families; social inclusion; and social cohesion”.