Employment body echoes concern on minimum wage

The Church's industrial relations body today backed growing concerns that the minimum wage could be eroded under the Federal Government's new industrial relations changes.

Australian Catholic Commission for Employment Relations (ACCER) executive officer, John Ryan said that he is concerned the new Australian Fair Pay Commission, part of the WorkChoices regime, will not consider "the need for workers to support their families and that it will not be able to influence the Commonwealth's taxation and welfare policies on low income earners."

The taxation debate has to resolve the issues facing low-income earners and welfare-to-work participants, he said. "The current tax debate is focused on the top end. There also needs to be a focus on those at the bottom of the income scale who are confronted with higher marginal tax rates as they earn more in wages."

"The neglect of low income earners in the tax debate has come at a time when their tax rates are at historically high levels."

Mr Ryan said the long-term trends for low-income workers are continuing. "Even since the introduction of the GST in July 2000, the proportion of tax of these low income earners has gone up, while the percentage paid by those on five times that income has decreased," he said.

"Importantly, government policies on taxation of low income earners will have an impact on the cost to an employer of employing workers. Wages policies must be integrated with taxation and welfare policies in order to promote economic competition, fair pay and employment opportunities."

ACCER's concern follows comments made by President Giudice of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission that the growth in the minimum wage would slow down into the future as a result of WorkChoices.

"The debate about the living standards of low income workers has neglected the impact that the Commonwealth Government's own policies have on the standard of living and job prospects of low income workers," Mr Ryan said.

"We hope that the Fair Pay Commission will evaluate the impact that income tax has on the employment of low income workers, so that there can be a more considered public debate about the impact of wage and taxation levels on employment in the globalised market place," he said.

Church employment body echoes concern on minimum wage (Australian Catholic Commission for Employment Relations 26/3/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Australian Catholic Commission for Employment Relations
WorkChoices: A New Workplace Relations System

Commission urges Church employers to review contracts (CathNews 14/3/06)
Commission advises Catholic employers on new legislation (CathNews 27/1/06)

Combet warns over IR changes (Sydney Morning Herald 26/3/06)
New IR changes to take effect (The Age 27/3/06)
Workchoices: What do you need to know and do now? (Australian Catholic Coommission for Employment Relations March 2006)

27 Mar 2006