On March 12 the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) lodged a submission to the Fair Pay Commission calling for a $26 a week pay increase for workers covered by awards — a 4.9% increase for workers paid the minimum wage (currently $522.12 a week).
"Rising petrol, housing and food costs are putting working Australians under considerable financial pressure and workers that rely on minimum award wages need a real wage rise", Jeff Lawrence, ACTU secretary, said. " More than a million low paid workers went backwards in real terms by up to $44 a week or $2200 a year over the last three years, according to ACTU research."
The federal government has refused to endorse the submission. Workplace relations minister Julia Gillard has refused to nominate a dollar amount that the Rudd government would like to see wages rise by. "We are making the point that, of course, things are moving in our economy and moving in the international economy and we will take the opportunity after the May budget to further update the fair pay commission on macroeconomic conditions", Gillard told ABC Radio's AM on March 14. "We are taking the same approach in terms of not nominating a figure that was taken by the former government."