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Church Commission argues workers have right to just wage

Every worker has the right to earn a just wage, and the payment of a just wage is the employer's responsibility, according to the Australian Catholic Commission for Employment Relations (ACCER).

The Catholic Weekly reports that the Commission said enforcing the principle of "a level of remuneration that allows an employee to support him or herself and their family in dignity" is the responsibility of the state.

The Catholic body was making a submission to the living wage case being heard by the Australian Industrial Relations Commission, which is considering a request by the ACTU for a $25 per week increase for Australia's 1.4 million workers on award wages.

Rather than endorsing a specific amount, the Catholic submission addresses "the social and moral principles that need to be considered by the Full Bench in reaching its decision". It said that "flat dollar" rather than percentage increases gave "the greatest assistance to the low paid".

The Federal Government and the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry have rejected the ACTU submission. Employment Minister Tony Abbott said the bid for a $25 per week increase could lead to increased unemployment. He advocated a $10 per week rise.

The Commission for Employent Relations is both advocate and employer it represents Catholic Church agencies, hospitals, schools and other Catholic organisations employing around 176,000 people. The wage decision is expected to be handed down early in April.

Australian Catholic Commission for Employment Relations
ACCER submission to the Australian Industrial Relations Commission in the Safety Net Review 2002 case (PDF document)

Catholic Weekly

21 Mar 2002