The Western Australian Council of Social Service and Unions WA have called for the state minimum wage to increase by 7 per cent to meet the basic needs of low paid workers, and help ease cost of living pressures for households who are struggling to make ends meet.

The Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission will be hearing submissions today for the 2023 State Wage Case.

A rise of 7 per cent to the minimum wage would give the state’s lowest-paid workers an extra $57.40 per week.

WACOSS Acting CEO, Rachel Siewert, said despite Western Australia’s wealth, and continued low unemployment rates, inequality continues to rise.

“WA has seen an increasing wave of low-income households entering financial hardship due to the sharp increase in cost of living, as evidenced by rising CPI,” Ms Siewert said.

“A 7 per cent increase to the minimum wage is the bare minimum needed to close the gap between declining real wages and essential living costs to enable our lowest-paid workers to maintain living standards in line with community expectations.

“In the last 12 months the big two supermarkets have both posted record profits, with Woolworths profits up 14% and Coles profits up 17%, all the while people are struggling tto put food on their table.

“It is not fair on workers to blame inflation for real wage decline, when nothing is being done to rein in cmassive corporate profits which also drive inflation.

“WA’s lowest-paid workers deserve a wage rise of at least 7 per cent to help them keep food on the table and a roof over their heads.”

UnionsWA Secretary, Owen Whittle, said the case sets the wages for an estimated 250,000 working West Australians, including apprentices, trainees and many on minimum wages and state awards, who rely on this decision to determine their pay in the face of rising costs of living. 

“This is the single most important wage determination in WA,” Mr Whittle said.

“It directly affects a quarter of a million mostly low paid West Australians who urgently need cost of living relief.

“Past increases in the WA minimum wage have not kept pace with rapidly rising costs of living.

“With Perth rents having increased by 7.6% and all housing costs by 7.1%, unions and community welfare bodies are seeking a 7% increase for the lowest paid.

“For an adult on the WA minimum wage we are seeking a modest $1.51 per hour increase in pay to be at $23.09 per hour.

“Our submission to the Commission cites research from Anglicare Australia that show that a Perth retail worker typically pays 67% of their income on rent, while a retail worker in northern WA pays 75%.

“Apprentices and trainee will have their pay determined by this case and if we are to build the skills that our economy so desperately needs, then an urgent and significant increase in their pay is needed.

“Disappointingly, neither Government nor industry groups have made a submission to the Commission on what pay rise they seek.

“This misses the opportunity to increase wages to attract and retain working people in this time of workforce shortages.

“Women are disproportionately overrepresented among those that rely on the State Wage Case, typically in low paid and related award jobs.

“If we are to progress closing the gender pay gap, then a significant increase in their pay is needed.”

Media Contacts
Tim Oliver (WACOSS) – 0431 9696 25
Philip O’Donoghue (Unions WA) – 0417 923 029

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