PIAA denounces minimum wage rise plan

Printing Industries Association of Australia (PIAA) has come out against Labor’s suggested plans to raise the minimum wage to reflect living costs, while the print division at the AMWU welcomes it.

 The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) has proposed replacing the current minimum wage with a supposed living wage, which would be 60 per cent of the median wage. This would create an increase from the minimum salary of $695 a week to $852, a model that Labor has not yet commited to.

Andrew Macaulay, CEO of Printing Industries Association of Australia, says “This is a clear and targeted attack on small business, a sector that represents a significant part of total Australian businesses and a significant component of the printing industry.”

Macaulay says small businesses make up the majority of the print industry.

He says, “As employees within our industry predominantly sit under awards, small businesses within our sector face the greatest risk to potentially crippling cost increases.

 “Some business owners within the print industry are earning less than their employees because of the award structure. Market data shows that nationally, nearly half of small business owners already earn less than the minimum wage. There is little room in small business profitability to absorb an increase in award rates. Without a doubt, the result will be job losses, a reduction in employment opportunities and business closures.

“We are campaigning against this move, it will affect business productivity and employment. It is counter productive and we would say to the government to ignore the opposition’s push and that of the union.”

[Related: Visy wins casual labour case]

However Lorraine Cassin, national print secretary at AMWU says, “Labor’s announcement that they will seek to raise the national minimum wage to a living wage should be welcomed by all Australians. Australians are crying out for a pay rise and wages have been stagnant for too long.

“How does business expect people to buy their products if their wages keep falling? Higher wages are good for business – not bad for it, as consumers are more likely to buy their products.  

“The Reserve Bank Governor himself told workers last year to demand a pay rise from their employers.

“In addition, all print workers should already be paid above the minimum wage – they should at a minimum be on the Print Award. To say that a rise in the minimum wage will cripple business is misleading and wrong.”

Macaulay says, “This proposal has caused concern amongst our members who have called us. The issue was brought up at a meeting with a member of government and a number of cross benchers, and we also raised electricity pricing.

“From what we see and hear, many small businesses in our industry are already having a tough time of it in an environment of soaring electricity prices and ever-increasing compliance costs. This increase could be the end of many of them.

“And the potential impact is far reaching; the recent positive uplift in business confidence and the potential for economic growth will soon reverse if small to medium businesses across Australia cannot afford to employ.”

Cassin says, “If business is concerned about the cost doing business they should be calling on the government to better regulate our gas and electricity markets to keep prices under control, rather than blaming workers.”

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