$17 wage rise for workers

HUNDREDS of Tweed workers will get an extra $17 a week after an Australian Industrial Relations Commission ruling yesterday.

It is an increase which has been welcomed by a Tweed business representative despite worries that it could cause an upward spiral in the cost of living.

President of the Kingscliff and Tweed Coast Business Association Alan McIntosh said yesterday that something had to be done to shrink the gap between the lowest paid and the highest paid in Australia.

"You would not normally expect to hear this from an employer, but although it is $17 a week those low paid workers deserve every penny they get as they are some of the hardest workers and yet the lowest paid," he said.

The increase will be felt strongly in the Tweed as it covers the hospitality, transport, vehicle repair and timber industries.

More than 1.6 million of Australia's lowestpaid workers will see their pay packets grow from the minimum wage of $467.40 to $484.40.

Mr McIntosh said he hoped that after tax, superannuation and other deductions there will be something left for the employees getting the increase.

"It often seems like a dog eating its tail, because as we increase business costs, like wages, the costs of goods go up," he said.

"Employers will need to push their prices up and the cost of living will soar again.

"And those outings where you would take a family to eat out may be getting out of reach for the battler."

The ACTU wanted a $26.60 a week pay rise for workers on federal awards, but business and farmers wanted no more than $10 a week and the federal government pushed for an offer of no more than $11 a week.

State governments supported an increase of $20 a week.

A full bench of the commission delivered its ruling in Melbourne yesterday morning in what is expected to be its final wage case, amid the federal government's planned industrial relations system shake-up that could strip the AIRC of its wage fixing powers and create a new Fair Pay Commission.

The pay increase applies only to workers paid on a federal award and only to workers covered by awards specified in the case. State industrial tribunals conduct their own cases.

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