3 May 2010


The burden of Australia's economic recovery from the global financial crisis has fallen unfairly on lower paid workers according to the Chairman of the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council, Bishop Christopher Saunders, in a Pastoral Letter issued for the Feast of St Joseph the Worker (1 May).

Comparing the circumstances of the richest and poorest Australians following the global financial crisis, he says, ‘Over the past decade, minimum wages have fallen further behind average weekly earnings. Safety net wages, even when supplemented by family benefits, have not prevented families falling into poverty or coming close to it.'

‘In 2009, the Australian Fair Pay Commission imposed a wage freeze on 1.6 million safety net workers with the aim of preventing job loss and promoting economic recovery. This burden has not been carried proportionally by the average income earner, and still less by those at the highest levels of the wealth spectrum.'

‘While the lowest paid workers endure a pay freeze for the sake of Australia’s economic interests, the Productivity Commission recently dismissed suggestions of pay caps or reduced tax concessions on executive remuneration on the grounds that this “could damage our national economic interests”’
, Bishop Saunders said.

'The minimum wage decision that Fair Work Australia makes in June will be a critical test of this nation’s fairness,’ Bishop Saunders concluded.

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