Minimum wage increase ‘fair enough’

A minimum wage increase of $18.70 per week will see Gippsland’s lowest income earners receive a pay rise similar to their cost increases from 1 July.

The national minimum wage will be $640.90 per week or $16.87 per hour – calculated by dividing the weekly rate by 38 hours a week for a full-time employee.

The three per cent increase is linked to a particular wage, but is similar to the 2.9 per cent rate of inflation for the first quarter of 2014.

Traralgon’s Seymour Street Newsagency owner Darren Howe said although the increase was “going to make things tougher” for businesses, he did not begrudge it.

“If you have four or five years of tough business you can’t expect people to not receive a pay rise in that time – it’s a fact of life,” Mr Howe said.

He said he believed the rate increase of three per cent was “fair enough” given the cost of living grew about the same rate.

“We’re under the same cost pressures as they are… rent, utility bills… they need to be able to afford to live too, the same as we need to be able to afford to run a business,” he said.

Gippsland Trades and Labour Council assistant secretary Steve Dodd said GTLC believed the rise was “too little”.

“It’s not fair and we just think people on minimum wage will suffer more (because) in real terms they’re taking a pay cut,” Mr Dodd said.

Australian Council of Trade Unions submitted a proposed rise of $27, which Mr Dodd said was to keep pace with the cost of living in real terms.

“People on minimum wage are taking at double hit… in light of the government budget making education and health more expensive for everybody,” Mr Dodd said.