Minimum wage increase prompts conflict

By James Russell and Sharni Hastings

Business owners today started their week with money on their minds, following last Friday’s decision by the Fair Work Commission (FWC) to implement a 3.5 per cent national minimum wage increase.

Bean There Done That Espresso Bar co-owner Zac Carew says that he is annoyed, feeling the FWC are not taking minimum wage staff behaviour into account.

“I find a lot of [minimum wage] workers lazy,” he says.

“If they can’t handle their money as it is now let alone having more, they need to show serious signs – especially the young generation – of saving their money.”

“It’s about parenting, it’s about ethics, and it’s about everything.”

Zac Carew, co-owner of Bean There Done That. Photo: Sharni Hastings.

The weekly rate of pay will rise to $719.20 from $694.90 marking the highest wage percentage surge since 2011.

In the official report published by the FWC, submissions by various levels of government – including the Queensland State Government – cite this as a necessary increase into making wages “fair and reasonable”.

The National Retail Association and Restaurant and Catering Industry Association both argued against this on the grounds that today’s economic conditions do not warrant it.

The report concurs, noting that: “[60] Compared to the position at the time of the 2016-17 review, the economic indicators now point more unequivocally to a healthy national economy and labour market.”

The Good Bean Café staff member Beth Calvert said the weekly pay rise is well-deserved.

“Hospitality workers have to put up with a lot,” she said.

“You know it’s our living, so of course it’s going to be extremely beneficial.”

Miss Calvert said a lot of small businesses shared a good connection between staff and owners.

“I don’t see many bosses having too much of an issue with the pay change; we’re all pretty close,” she said.

“They work alongside us and do a lot of what we do, so they should understand.”

Mr Carew says the pay issue was complex.

“I think it’s a bigger conversation that just a table conversation,” he said.

“I’m more than happy to obviously – like, every now and then you find that kind of staff that’s worth that extra 3.5 percent.”

“But at this stage I haven’t seen that people deserve this major a change in wage.”

Changes will come into effect from July 1, 2018.

Specific rates, including individual award rates, are yet to be confirmed.

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