The Guardian May 3, 2000


Living Wage $15 rise

The Australian Industrial Relations Commission's awarding of the $15 
Living Wage claim will increase the minimum weekly wage from $385.40 to 
$400.40. In its submission the ACTU had argued for $24. Living wage claims 
over the past four years have secured total wage rises of $51 despite 
opposition from employer groups and the Howard Government.

"There are still far too many working people who are struggling to pay for 
the basics in life, said ACTU Secretary Greg Combet.

"Casual and part-time workers, women and people from non-English speaking 
backgrounds are among the lowest paid people in Australia  this rise will 
help them all.

The ACTU argued in the Commission that the current minimum weekly wage is 
simply not enough for people to live on. The decision shows how out of 
touch the Government and employers are with the genuine needs of working 
people, said Mr Combet.

"The Government offered a miserly $8 increase, and the major employer 
group, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, argued against any 
increase at all.

Only the state Labor Governments supported the ACTU's case.

Mr Combet described the rise as a win for all low-paid workers which would 
help address the widening gap between award-dependent employees and those 
groups of workers who had been able to achieve higher rates of pay.

The United Trades and Labor Council of South Australia said the increase 
was an important boost for lower paid workers finding it difficult to 
survive.

Labor Council Secretary, Chris White, called on those workers who have not 
had any increase as a result of their not having the power to negotiate 
through enterprise bargaining, to contact the Labor Council or their union.

"This modest rise contrasts with the huge pay increases for company chief 
executives, some over 20 percent, said Chris White.

The minimum wage is a little over half of average full-time adult earnings 
of around $790 a week.

It is a far cry from the obscene $1.45 million average package of chief 
executive officers in Australia's major corporations.

With chief executives of the top 100 Australian companies on packages 
averaging an obscene $1.45 million per annum  $27,885 per week.

But that's not all, the CEOs of the top 100 companies also hold options on 
an average of $6.15 million worth of shares, and collectively hold shares 
and options in their companies worth more than $975 million.

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