WA’s lowest paid workers will continue to struggle, with the minimum wage being lifted only a fraction over inflation.
The WA Industrial Relations Commission has raised the minimum wage by 3.1 per cent, meaning a fulltime worker will earn just over $665 a week.
United Voice WA Secretary Carolyn Smith said the minimum wage may have risen by 3 percent but cost of living continues to climb.
“With the recent state budget we saw the average family slugged an extra $324/yr for basic utilities such as water and electricity,” Ms Smith said.
“The minimum wage may have been raised by 3 per cent but electricity costs have risen by 4.5 per cent, water has risen by 6 per cent and public transport increased by 4 per cent.
“These fee increases will really hurt workers on minimum wage.”
Despite this modest rise to the minimum wage, Premier Colin Barnett has signalled that he plans to introduce changes in Parliament that would reduce penalty rates for working weekends.
United Voice member Sarah Darby studies part time and juggles two jobs as a cleaner.
She relies on penalty rates to survive and says without workers, companies and organisations wouldn’t be making a profit.
“I’m really concerned about the penalty rates because a lot of workers are earning minimum wages and everything is going up in our state,” she said.
“So how can everybody keep up with the cost of living?”
Fair Work has already ruled that level 1 and 2 casual restaurant award staff will lose 20% of their Sunday penalty rates by January 2015, a move that is seen to begin the abolishment of penalties altogether.
United Voice WA Secretary Carolyn Smith says many low paid workers are already struggling to make ends meet and taking away weekend rates would have a devastating effect.
“Weekend rates are a form of compensation for workers who work unsociable hours such as weekends and late nights,” Ms Smith said.
“Many workers rely on the extra rates to make ends meet.”