Western Australia’s minimum wage will rise by 5.25 per cent, giving the state’s lowest paid workers an extra $ 40.90 a week, following a decision by the WA Industrial Relations Commission.
- The 5.2 percent wage increase is below Perth’s inflation of 7.6 percent
- WA is experiencing record low unemployment
- The minimum wage in WA will now be $ 820 per week
The increase is lower than the unions WA and WA Council of Social Services [WACOSS] had applied and is below Perth’s inflation of 7.6 per cent.
However, it is a little ahead of last week’s federal Fair Work Commission decision to raise the national minimum wage by 5.2 per cent.
Chief Commissioner Stephen Kenner said that although the state’s economy was strong, some low-income households had difficulty coping due to the inflation rate.
“This has had a significant impact on the cost of living for the low paid,” he said.
“A significant amount of data was before the commission in relation to low-income households and the difficulties they have in meeting rising cost of living in the form of rents, food and energy costs and rising fuel prices.”
Employers face greater costs
Commissioner Kenner noted that since last year’s decision, health and border restrictions in WA had been eased and there was record low unemployment.
He said the IRC was aware of increased costs for employers, including changes to mandatory pension contributions.
There was a risk that companies would pass on rising costs to consumers.
The minimum wage will increase to $ 819.90 per week, up from $ 779, while other wage earners will have increases of 4.65 percent.
The rise has been welcomed by unions and WACOSS, with UnionWA Secretary Owen Whittle urging all employers to increase wages.
“This must be the first step in ensuring that all workers receive a significant wage increase,” he said.
“We know the cost of living in WA has been the highest in the country, which is why we had to see a minimum wage increase that was greater than the federal minimum wage increase.”
Help for families
WACOSS CEO Louise Giolitto said it would make a huge difference for families.
“We know that Western Australian families are really struggling at the moment,” she said.
“This will help them keep the roof over their heads, the lights on and three meals on the table.
“We know that in Western Australia we have an inflation rate of 7.6 per cent, so it has to some extent declined slightly in real terms.
“But we’re glad it’s at least kept pace and a little better than the federal wage case.”
She said the community service sector had seen increases of 20-30 percent in people seeking income support.
Warning from the Chamber of Commerce
But the Chamber of Commerce said this was not the time to increase labor costs to this degree.
It said the decision “further widens” the gap between the state and the federal minimum wage and would “pile up” higher costs for sole proprietorships and partnerships at a time of rising material and labor costs.
WA companies would be further disadvantaged compared to the majority of companies covered by the national system, the chamber said in a statement.
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