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Bishops slam minimum wage rise of $13 a day

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Inadequate national increase will be “acutely felt” by many

The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference has criticised the minimum wage increase saying it will not ease the financial burdens of the working poor, particularly those raising young families.

Bishop Max Davis, the Bishop Delegate for Employment Relations, said the 1.75 per cent rise does not meet the inflation rate and falls well short of providing vulnerable families with a safety net as required by law.

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“Through the various ministries of the Church, the bishops have a first-hand understanding of the challenges faced by minimum-wage earners,” said Bishop David.

“Many minimum-wage earners, despite working full-time and having trade qualifications, are unable to raise themselves and their families out of poverty.”

The Fair Work Commission’s ruling will see the national minimum wage of $19.49 per hour or $740.80 per hour week (before tax) rise to $19.84 per hour or $753.80 a week.

The Conference makes submissions to the annual review of the minimum wage each year. It argued for a 4 per cent increase before COVID-19 led to additional financial uncertainty for many low-paid workers and their families.

Bishop Davis said its latest submission sought to outline how the economy, “in part because of a minimum wage that is inadequate”, is seeing more people in full-time work not meet what is internationally considered to be the threshold for poverty – earning 60 per cent of the median household income.

“A 1.75 per cent increase in the minimum wage before tax, at this point in time, doesn’t achieve that, and it will be felt most acutely in households with children,” he said.

The decision has been met with mixed response across different sectors, with some leaders in the already fragile tourism industry due to COVID-19 concerned it will cause further damage and other industry leaders agreeing the rise will cost some low-paid workers their jobs.

Related articles:

Church, welfare leaders call out wage crisis
Church leaders call for a fair go for poor families
Increasing the minimum wage is our chance to get back to dignity

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