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More criticism on the industrial relations front

By Chris McGillion

The low paid will be big losers from the Federal Government’s proposed industrial relations reforms unless a way is found to integrate wage, taxation and welfare policies in a way that promotes both economic growth and social justice, according to the Australian Catholic Commission for Employment Relations (ACCER).

In a paper released this week, ACCER’s executive officer Mr John Ryan, argues that proposed changes to the setting of the minimum wage constitute the most far–reaching of the proposed workplace reforms as the minimum wage sets the foundation for wages and the conditions of all workers in the workplace and can act as the ceiling for the level of government support payments.

“The test of the Fair Pay Commission will be whether or not it is prepared to set a family wage, by taking into account the needs of families to live with dignity in modern Australia,” Mr Ryan suggests.

“The needs of families to live with dignity in society should be the starting point for any examination of the necessary level of the minimum wage.  This should critically examine - not simply take into account - the interaction with the taxation and welfare support systems.”

Last week, ACCER weighed into a chorus of criticism from the churches over the proposed industrial relations changes, raising concerns about unfair dismissal provisions, minimum conditions, workplace bargaining, the role of the Industrial Relations Commission, and the minimum wage.

Now Mr Ryan has conducted a detailed analysis of the link between tax policy and wages, arguing that low-income workers had been disadvantaged relative to high-income workers for the past forty years.

“It is currently being argued by some in our community that a job is a way out of welfare and disadvantage and the avoidance of poverty,” he writes.

“If, as some have claimed, there is a relationship between wage and employment levels, then the appropriate policy response would include addressing the taxation rates and welfare traps applying to low income earners.  In our view, there is insufficient attention on the tax burden that falls on low paid workers.”

A full copy of Mr Ryan’s paper …… 



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