RTTNews - Tuesday, the Australian Fair Pay Commission kept the minimum hourly wage rate at A$14.31 or A$543.78 per week. Moreover, the commission has also decided to keep the adult rates of pay according to the Australian pay scales at their current levels.

The Commission said the decision would help minimize the effect of the downturn on employment, particularly its impact on the most vulnerable workers.

According to the commission, many people who became unemployed during a downturn do not re-enter paid employment. They go to the back of the queue and become long-term unemployed or leave the labor force altogether, it said.

This year's wage-setting decision is primarily intended to protect jobs . and importantly to support a stronger recovery in employment as the economy picks up, the commission said.

Meanwhile, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry also supported the decision to keep the minimum wage unchanged. The ACCI said it was the best outcome for both employers and employees and more importantly one that protects jobs.

To do otherwise, would have imposed a higher wage and labor cost burden on hundreds of thousands of small and medium businesses, which would weaken their ability to maintain viability and jobs during the current global economic downturn.

Further, the business lobby pointed out that the recent tax cuts and the fiscal stimulus provided by the government already helped maintain social nets.

However, the decision was opposed by union groups. The Australian Council of Trade Unions said more than 1.3 million Australian workers relying on the minimum wages, including many young workers, women and migrant workers would suffer now.

Today's decision... is another kick in the guts for working Australians from the Liberals' WorkChoices, said the unions.

Jeff Lawrence Secretary of the ACTU pointed out that The decision means ordinary working Australians and their families are bearing the brunt of an economic downturn they did not cause.

The costs of rent, food, medicines, education and utilities have all risen in the past year and families need a pay rise to keep up. A pay freeze will sap consumer demand and undermine confidence. Any green shoots of economic recovery will be nipped in the bud by this unfair and unwise decision, the union said.

For comments and feedback: contact editorial@rttnews.com