Fair Work Commission to announce pay rise for minimum wage earners

More than 2.3 million Aussies could be about to pocket a pay rise, with a major decision to be announced this morning.Millions of low-paid workers will find out within hours whether they will pocket a pay rise this year.At 10am (AEST) on Wednesday morning, the Fair Work Commission will announce whether a push by the unions and the new Albanese government to boost wages was successful.The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) has called for a 5.5 per cent pay rise for more than 2.3 million Australians on minimum wages, while the Labor government has supported a slightly more modest increase of 5.1 per cent in line with inflation to make sure “the real wages of Australia’s low-paid workers do not go backwards”.A 5.1 per cent pay rise would equate to an extra $1 per hour, and would lift the hourly minimum wage to $21.36.In a statement earlier this month, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said increasing the minimum wage would also help close the gender pay gap, an issue which featured heavily during the election campaign.“Many low-paid workers are young, female, in casual employment, and are far more likely to find themselves experiencing financial hardship,” he said.“These low-paid workers were also on the front line delivering essential services during the Covid-19 pandemic, including in the retail, hospitality, aged care, cleaning, and childcare sectors.”Meanwhile, employer groups have campaigned for the rise to be far lower, at just 2.5 per cent to 3.2 per cent, and for a delay in pay rises for those in sectors affected by Covid, such as tourism and hospitality.But ACTU secretary Sally McManus said working people needed a significant pay rise now.“Under the last government we had almost a decade of record-low wage growth capped off by real wage cuts across the economy. The Annual Wage Review can end those cuts for a quarter of working people,” she said.“It’s is morally indefensible for employers to argue for pay freezes when profits are up 20 per cent and on every measure businesses have recovered well from the pandemic. The biggest risk to business is actually consumer spending which ironically they are seeking to damage through their proposed wage cuts.“Arguing for a pay freezes and cuts for working people when all the economic indicators support a significant pay increase makes it crystal clear that some of these employer groups will never support pay rises for workers.”Ms McManus said that the country was grappling with a cost of living crisis, with “productivity high and profits at record levels, low unemployment and the lowest labour share of GDP on record”.“Anyone not currently advocating for wage growth is ignoring the problem,” she said.“Working people cannot be left behind in the recovery from the pandemic.”Originally published as Millions could score pay rise in hours as Fair Work Commission announces minimum wage ruling