The ACTU's bid to remove former senior public servant Tony Cole from this year's annual wage review has failed, after he told the peak body in a consultation hearing this morning that he would not step down because he was not a party to the Audit Commission's recommendation to reduce the minimum wage.
The Fair Work Commission has pushed the federal and state governments to show their hands in this year's wage review, asking them what dollar or percentage increase would constitute a "cautious" or "balanced" approach.
The ACTU has asked that a member of the minimum wage review panel stand aside on the grounds of "apprehended bias" after he sat on the Abbott Government's Commission of Audit, which recommended a radical reduction in the pay safety net. Meanwhile, retail super funds have begun legal action against the FWC.
New analysis by the ACTU argues that the real agenda of the Commission of Audit's suggested changes to the national minimum wage is to reduce the pay safety net for 1.5 million workers who receive award minimum rates.
Advocating a much more severe cut to the Coalition's paid parental leave scheme than Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced on Tuesday, the National Audit Commission has recommended the government cap payments at average weekly earnings and plough the resulting savings into child care assistance.
The Abbott Government's Audit Commission report, released today, recommends axing the FWC's role in setting minimum wages, moving over a decade to a new, lower "minimum wage benchmark" of 44% of average weekly earnings, and allowing "regional variations" that would open up a gap of $100 a week between workers in Tasmania and those in four other states and territories.
The Abbott Government says workers who are not low paid are cornering the lion’s share of rises from the annual minimum wage review, as it seeks to champion increases achieved through enterprise bargaining rather than adjustments to award rates.