Wage increase welcomed

HELPING HAND: CFMMEU secretary Brad Coates said the increase of the minimum wage was a very positive thing for the economy and said it will be able to help people cover the increase in the cost of living. Picture: File

Tyler Redway

A LIMESTONE Coast union representative has praised the Fair Work Commission following its decision to raise the national minimum wage by 5.2 per cent last week.

The wage is now slightly above the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which currently sits at 5.1 per cent.

The minimum wage has now increased from $20.33 an hour to a new hourly rate of $21.38.

Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMMEU) secretary Brad Coates said with the current high cost of living, it was a significantly positive change.

“People are struggling with their weekly commitments and especially people on the minimum wage,” Mr Coates said.

“It will certainly help, with the CPI currently at 5.1 per cent it means that people’s wages aren’t going backwards.”

Along with the increase in minimum wage, Mr Coates said award wages were also given a slightly lower increase of 4.6 per cent.

Mr Coates claimed some union members who are on above award wages were able to obtain those higher rates due to an extensive history of negotiations, but unfortunately this has been in a slow decline for the last 10 to 15 years due to inflation.

“We currently have a number of workplaces we are in negotiations with for enterprise bargaining, which is anything from a one, two or three year deal,” he said.

“A lot of the claims on the table are for a five per cent increase on that to account for the cost of living as well.”

Mr Coates said the increase in minimum wage would encourage workers to spend more, which in turn would help to support the economy.

“What happens when people get that wage increase is they spend it back in the community by paying bills, buying a few more groceries and they are able to put petrol in their car,” he said.

“You will find that most of the workers are living week to week and really struggling with higher living costs so this will just relieve some of the pressure.”