The national employer Association Ai Group has finalised its supplementary and post Federal Budget submissions to the Fair Work Commission in the Annual Wage Review.

Ai Group Chief Executive Innes Willox: “The latest economic data and various provisions in the Federal Budget supports previous arguments made by Ai Group. That is, that the Annual Wage Review Panel should take a cautious and moderate approach to increase award and minimum wages by not more than 2.8% this year.

“New income support measures announced in the 2024-25 Budget, including energy bill relief and increases to Commonwealth Rent Assistance, will complement previously announced measures to support the incomes of the low-paid.  These measures ensure a real increase in the disposable income of employees on minimum and award wages.

“The need to take budget support measures into account in reviewing wages has been supported by former ACTU Secretary and former RBA Board member, Bill Kelty, who is reported as saying this week: “If you’re giving energy relief and rent relief then the minimum wage is likely to be lower.

“The Commission also needs to consider in its Review the latest data which suggests a broad-based slowing of private sector wages. This data provides further evidence in support of Ai Group’s arguments that the labour market is continuing to weaken in early 2024.

“Ai Group’s final submissions to the Review include a strong rebuttal of the ACTU’s misguided and eleventh-hour proposals for very significant increases to employees covered by a selection of awards, claiming potential gender-based undervaluation of current rates of pay.

“In our view, the Commission could not responsibly grant the additional increases claimed. There is an absence of any evidentiary basis upon which the Commission could soundly do so and the nature and process of the AWR does not lend itself to properly considering the complex issues arising from the ACTU’s claim.

“On any reasonable assessment, thorough consideration should be given to the potential adverse impacts on employers of the cost increases proposed. This includes many not-for-profit organisations operating in areas such as the disability sector or early education that provide crucial services to our community, but who will be entirely unable to meet the kind of wage increases called for, or recover the higher costs from either current Government funding arrangements or the often-vulnerable people they assist.

“Ultimately, the reckless granting of unsustainable wage rises proposed by the ACTU would not only harm the employers impacted but also their employees and the broader economy and community given the crucial sectors caught by the union proposal.

“If the Commission is minded to further consider issues associated with gender equity, it should initiate separate proceedings that are directed towards this issue. It should not be dealt with further in the 2024 AWR,” Mr Willox said.

Ai Group’s supplementary submission to the Annual Wage Review

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