The Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA (CCI) is disappointed that the Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission (WAIRC) has today handed down a $20 per week increase to the state minimum wage or 2.75 per cent, payable from 1 July 2019.
CCI strongly represented our members at the State Wage Case to call for balance to be struck between real wage growth in WA and the capacity for small businesses to absorb the additional costs in WA’s difficult economic climate.
We called for an affordable increase of no more than 1.4 per cent. CPI for Perth rose 1.1 per cent over the year to March 2019. We believe CCI’s above CPI increase struck a balance between real wage increases and employment growth in WA.
CCI supports responsible and sustainable wage growth through the State Minimum Wage and award minimum wages but it is important to recognise that 60 per cent of small businesses owners earn $50,000 a year or less whilst working incredibly long hours and putting their life savings at risk.
Businesses are doing it tough in WA, particularly small and medium-sized businesses. WA’s domestic economy remains fragile, slowed down by falling business investment, flat retail trade and the second highest unemployment rate in the country.
Small businesses do not have a high capacity to absorb increases in operating costs or to respond to weakening demand and generally have less capacity to adjust to the adverse economic conditions WA has experienced in recent years.
We welcome the WAIRC’s recognition that WA is experiencing softer economic conditions compared to the east coast when determining this year’s State Wage Case. We also welcome the narrowing of the minimum wage gap for workers under the national wage system compared to the stage wage system from $7.70 to $6.10.
CCI respects the independence of the WAIRC, and while the decision is greater than CCI had advocated, we believe that the WAIRC strongly considered CCI’s arguments made on behalf of our members.