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Catholic employment body urges wage increase

The Australian Catholic Commission for Employment Relations has told Federal Workplace Relations Minister Kevin Andrews that the minimum wage in Australia should be raised by $26.60 per week.

Today's issue of Online Catholics reports that the Commission (ACCER) also argued that there needs to be much better information available on the effect of poverty on workers and their families.

ACCER was represented by its CEO John Ryan, as well as Phillip McMillan of the NSW Catholic Commission for Employment Relations, and Bishop William Morris, who chairs the Bishops Committee for Employment Relations.

Mr Ryan told Online Catholics that ACCER has been pushing for more information on the income required to support a family today.

He said: "While recognising that there is a place at which welfare benefits must cease, it may be that the cut-out point at present is too low."

The ACCER position on the minimum wage supported that of the ACTU. However other support for the ACTU was qualified. The ACTU said that workers across the board should receive a $26.60 weekly increase. The ACCER said that the proposed increase of $26.60 in the Federal Minimum Wage would still be insufficient to provide a fair minimum rate of pay for workers paid at that rate. The ACCER said increases granted should be directed mainly to those with the greatest.

"The primary beneficiaries should be those at the lower paid classifications. They are the most in need of a substantial increase in wages," the submission says.

ACCER also said that the Industrial Relations Commission remains the appropriate body to determine the minimum wage.

"We do not support proposals to introduce a government-run commission to make decisions on minimum living standards, because such a body could be politicized," Mr Ryan said. "The Industrial Relations Commission is an independent statutory tribunal, with responsibilities under the Act," Mr Ryan said.

Modern catholic social justice teaching is grounded in Rerum Novarum by Pope Leo XIII in 1891.

"It was his [Pope Leo XIII's] view that human society is built upon and around productive human work. He said that employers, in strict justice, will pay for an honest day's work a wage sufficient to enable the worker, even if unskilled, to have the benefits of survival, good health, security and modest comfort and to support a family," Mr Ryan said. "In our tradition it is regarded as unjust to do less, especially where there is pressure on the low paid to accept this."

ACCER calls for just wage (Online Catholics 16/3/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Australian Catholic Commission for Employment Relations | Submission to Safety Net Review
Bishops' Committee for Employment Relations
Catholic Commission for Employment Relations - NSW
Department of Employment and Workplace Relations
Rerum Novarum: Encyclical Letter of His Holiness Pope Leo XIII issued on May 15, 1891
Introduction to Catholic Social Teaching (Social Action Office, Conference of Religious Institiutes, Queensland)

Catholic Welfare joins tax cuts call (CathNews 15/3/05)
Catholic body urges a better deal for the low paid (CathNews 7/5/04)
Church body urges $26.60 per week Minimum Wage increase (CathNews 26/3/04)
Commission escalates push for low paid workers (CathNews 23/2/04)
Catholic IR body supports Minimum Wage Rates above poverty line (CathNews 3/4/03)
Catholic Commission supports unions wage claim (CathNews 1/4/03)

16 Mar 2005