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Wage increase decision reflects industry concerns: NFF

Beef Central, 03/06/2013

The Fair Work Commission's decsion to raise the national minimum wage by $15.80 per week from July 1 is a better result for agriculture than the $30 per week increase called for by unions, the National Farmers Federation said today. 

n a submission to the Fair Work Commission in March, the NFF called for a $9 per week increase, including the Superannuation levy increase of $1.50.

“Although this is higher than our proposed $9 increase to the minimum wage, this result is still a better outcome for Australian farmers than the union demand of a $30 per week increase,” NFF CEO Matt Linnegar said.

“This increase will see improved conditions for many Australians who are on the minimum wage, and we welcome this as a benefit for workers across the nation.

“In our submission we stressed to the Commission the need to maintain balance between the needs of workers and the ability of small businesses, including farmers, to absorb higher wage costs at a time when they are already battling tough drought conditions and an even tougher economic climate,” Mr Linnegar said.

The decision, handed down today, is lower than the increase seen in 2012, largely as a result of lower economic growth nationally, a tight Federal Budget and the pending rise in superannuation.

“We acknowledge the importance of providing a wage incentive that will encourage more Australians into paid work – and most importantly, into work in the agricultural sector,” Mr Linnegar said.

“Our sector is facing a long-term skilled labour shortage and so any move that helps us attract and retain our valuable labour base is crucial,” Mr Linnegar said.

The NFF highlighted the importance of balancing the needs of employees against the rising costs to agriculture employers.

“With farmers across Australia struggling to maintain their financial stability in the face of continued dry weather conditions and other challenges, including fluctuating commodity prices and rising rural debt, the increase to the national minimum wage had the potential to create a further cost burden to the agriculture industry,” Mr Linnegar said.

“But today we have seen that the Fair Work Commission is listening to our industry’s concerns. If Australian agriculture is to remain competitive internationally, we have to limit the already rising costs of doing business,” Mr Linnegar said. “A national minimum wage increase of $15.80 is not ideal, but is closer to reality than the excessive claims made by unions.”

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