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FECCA Submission to Fair Pay Commission July 2006

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					FEDERATION OF ETHNIC
COMMUNITIES’ COUNCILS
OF AUSTRALIA (FECCA)



 SUBMISSION TO
AUSTRALIAN FAIR
PAY COMMISSION
     2006

 FECCA gratefully acknowledges the expertise and assistance of
       Ms Carol Andrades in developing this Submission.
                                          FECCA




          SUBMISSION TO AUSTRALIAN FAIR PAY COMMISSION (AFPC) 2006


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY ................................................................................. 2
FECCA – AIMS AND OBJECTIVES ...................................................................... 4
PEOPLE FROM CLDB AND VULNERABILITY IN THE WORKPLACE ................................. 5
IMPORTANCE TO PEOPLE FROM CLDB OF THE INAUGURAL DECISION OF THE AFPC ......... 8
DUTIES OF THE AUSTRALIAN FAIR PAY COMMISSION ............................................. 8
THE PRINCIPAL OBJECT OF THE ACT ............................................................... 9
WELFARE AND A FAIR LABOUR MARKET ...........................................................11
INTERNATIONAL CONVENTIONS.....................................................................12
  “Anti-Discrimination” Conventions .............................................................12
  Other Relevant International Conventions.....................................................13
SECTION 23 – THE WAGE SETTING PARAMETERS .................................................14
  The Obligation to “Have Regard To” Certain Matters in s 23...............................14
SECTION 222 – ANTI-DISCRIMINATION CONSIDERATIONS ........................................15
  The Meaning of “Discrimination”................................................................16
A MATRIX OF FAIRNESS...............................................................................18
FURTHER RELEVANT CONSIDERATIONS ............................................................20
CONCLUSION...........................................................................................21




EXECUTIVE SUMMARY


1. FECCA and its constituency await the first decision of the AFPC with great

   interest. The AFPC’s first decision will send an important message to the

   community of people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds

   (CLDB) about the attitude of that body to the concerns of people from CLDB,

   about the AFPC’s consciousness of its duty to protect such vulnerable groups



                     FECCA Submission to Fair Pay Commission July 2006                         2
   in the community and its obligations to observe the principles under anti-

   discrimination laws (specifically, the Racial Discrimination Act 1975).



2. FECCA is deeply concerned that the AFPC’s invitation for submissions

   omitted any mention of the requirements of s 222 – that is, the anti-

   discrimination provisions. FECCA trusts that this was a mere oversight rather

   than deliberate avoidance of that part of the AFPC’s responsibilities.




3. FECCA considers that s 222, in combination with the principal object of the

   Act, which adverts to the welfare of the people of Australia, to the

   attainment of both a fair and a flexible labour market, to preventing and

   eliminating discrimination and giving effect to Australia’s international

   obligations, provides a matrix of fairness within which the AFPC must

   operate.



4. FECCA notes that the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission

   (HREOC) has already expressed concern that the potential exists for indirect

   discrimination to permeate the setting of minimum wages. Given that the

   AFPC has therefore, in effect, been forewarned of this potential, FECCA

   trusts that the AFPC will take measures to ensure that this does not occur.




                 FECCA Submission to Fair Pay Commission July 2006               3
FECCA – AIMS AND OBJECTIVES



5. The Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils of Australia (FECCA) is the

   Australian peak national body that supports multiculturalism, community

   harmony and social justice. FECCA plays an important national role in

   representing the needs, aspirations and achievements of people of diverse

   ethnic backgrounds.



6. In the field of employment, as in other fields, FECCA is an advocate for people

   from CLDB and is a catalyst in identifying issues for further research and

   development.



7. FECCA counts among its affiliates:

ACT Multicultural Community Council
Ethnic Communities' Council of NSW
Ethnic Communities' Council of Newcastle & Hunter Region
Ethnic Communities' Council of Illawarra
Ethnic Communities' Council of Wagga Wagga
Transcultural Community Council of Lightening Ridge
Multicultural Council of the Northern Territory
Ethnic Communities' Council of Queensland
Multicultural Communities Council Gold Coast
Ethnic Communities' Council of Logan
Multicultural Communities' Council of Sunshine Coast
Multicultural Communities' Council of Townsville
Multicultural Communities' Council of South Australia
Multicultural Council of Tasmania
Ethnic Communities' Council of Northern Tasmania
Ethnic Communities' Council of Victoria
Regional Multicultural Council of Ballarat
Diversitat (formerly Geelong Ethnic Communities' Council)
Ethnic Communities' Council of Gippsland
Bendigo Regional Ethnic Communities' Council
Sunraysia Ethnic Communities' Council
Ethnic Communities' Council of Shepparton and District
Ethnic Communities' Council of WA




                  FECCA Submission to Fair Pay Commission July 2006                  4
PEOPLE FROM CLDB AND VULNERABILITY IN THE WORKPLACE


8. People from CLDB are among the most vulnerable in the workplace. They tend

   to be concentrated in the sectors of the job market which create a potential for

   exploitation. The cost of this to individuals, families and the community is high.

   Typical workplace disadvantage stems from factors such as:



   geographic dislocation,

             a history of multiple displacement which has denied CLDB people

             normal benefits (such as educational opportunities) associated with

             continuity of life patterns,

             lack of English language proficiency

             different levels of education and literacy

             unfamiliarity with a new culture and customs,

             heavy responsibility to provide financial support for family in the

             country of origin

             likely life-experience of trauma (such as torture, dispossession, abuse

             by those in authority) which makes it difficult for CLDB people to

             assert themselves in a situation of power imbalance

             a greater likelihood of exploitation by unscrupulous employers

             being the target of negative stereotypes and racist behaviour at work

             a diminished idea of self-worth

             difficulties with having qualifications recognised

             skills atrophy

             humanitarian entrants from small and emerging communities being

             unable to demonstrate previously held qualifications due to their

             inability to bring relevant documents from their country of origin

                  FECCA Submission to Fair Pay Commission July 2006                 5
              limited knowledge of services available

              limited education opportunities

              higher unemployment of young adults

              lack of childcare (including lack of access to an extended family who

               would normally have provided this)

              difficulty accessing services which are predicated on a “white Anglo-

               Celtic” paradigm.



9. Many of these barriers exist even for people who may appear at first glance to

    be in a strong bargaining position, for example, skilled migrants, but who in fact

    due to employer discrimination or lack of recognition of qualifications, are in a

    powerless position. It has been noted that :



           “Evidence clearly demonstrates a number of groups of
           workers are over represented among the low paid – these are
           women, Indigenous employees, young people, People with
           disability [sic], migrant workers, those employed in small
           business and non-unionised employees. In an ACIRRT study
           [which] looked at ‘black spots’ where low pay was most
           common, it found that three quarters of low paid employees
           were women and between a fifth and three quarters were
           from non English speaking backgrounds”.1(emphasis added)




10. It follows that it is a feature, or attribute, of people from CLDB that they are

    more likely to experience exploitation and harm in the workplace. This

    obviously becomes a crucial factor in identifying the phenomenon of indirect

    discrimination, whereby a protected group (such as people from CLDB) are



1
 HREOC Submission to the Senate Employment, Workplace Relations and Education Legislation
Committee's Inquiry into the Workplace Relations Amendment (WorkChoices) Bill 2005.
http://www.aph.gov.au/senate/committee/eet_ctte/wr_workchoices05/submissions/sub164.pdf

                   FECCA Submission to Fair Pay Commission July 2006                        6
      likely to suffer the disparate, negative, impact of a minimum wage which is set

      too low (see below).



11. FECCA considers that the changes introduced by the recent amendments to the

      Workplace Relations Act 1996 militate against the interests of people from

      CLDB. To take but a few examples:



      The erosion of the award system and the increased emphasis on individualised

      workplace bargaining means people from CLDB are likely to be put in a position

      where they are afraid to speak up and will accept whatever they are offered.



      The removal of access to unfair dismissal laws for medium sized business (those

      employing fewer than 100 employees), means people from CLDB will fear for

      their job security and will work in unsafe and unacceptable conditions.



      The removal of any obligation on the Australian Industrial Relations Commission

      (AIRC) or the Employment Advocate to check workplace agreements for

      disadvantage, and the removal of the obligation for collective agreements to be

      checked to see if people from non-English speaking backgrounds understand

      them and are not disadvantaged by them2 means people from CLDB will enter

      into agreements which operate to their detriment.



      The severe curtailment of the AIRC’s powers to settle disputes (contrary,

      incidentally, to the impression given on the AFPC website) means there is no

      longer a cost effective forum to which people from CLDB may have resort



2   Former s 170LT(7)
                        FECCA Submission to Fair Pay Commission July 2006            7
IMPORTANCE TO PEOPLE FROM CLDB OF THE INAUGURAL DECISION OF THE AFPC



12. FECCA considers that the AFPC needs to take cognisance of the environment in

   which it is called upon to set wages and needs to reassure people from CLDB

   that their interests have actively been factored into all wage setting decisions.

   The role of the AFPC in this new environment is crucial if the interests of

   people from CLDB are to be protected. FECCA and its constituency therefore

   await the first decision of the AFPC with great interest and hope. The AFPC’s

   inaugural decision will send an important message to the community about the

   attitude of that body to the concerns of people from CLDB and about the AFPC’s

   consciousness of its duty to protect such groups in the community.



13. In particular, FECCA and its constituency await the AFPC’s exposition of how its

   decisions reflect the clear obligation, under the Act, for the AFPC to take

   account of principles embodied in anti-discrimination laws, such as the Racial

   Discrimination Act 1975.



14. As indicated below, that Act and the other anti-discrimination laws make it

   clear that discrimination in all its forms, whether direct or indirect, are

   unlawful. A wage which is set at too low a level will have a negative disparate

   impact upon vulnerable workers, of whom people from CLDB form a significant

   part – and this in turn would be a species of indirect discrimination (see below).



DUTIES OF THE AUSTRALIAN FAIR PAY COMMISSION




                  FECCA Submission to Fair Pay Commission July 2006                    8
15. Whatever label one might choose to use, FECCA considers that there is a

   legislative imperative for the AFPC to take account of broad considerations of

   fairness. This follows because of the principal object of the Act and the

   legislative directive that decisions of the AFPC not discriminate against those

   sectors of the community who are specifically protected under s 222 of the Act.




THE PRINCIPAL OBJECT OF THE ACT



16. The AFPC is the creature of statute (that is, the Workplace Relations Act 1996).

   The principal object of a statute binds all entities created by the statute.



17. FECCA considers it vital to note that s 23 of the Act, which sets out the AFPC’s

   wage setting parameters and which has been given great prominence, is itself

   embedded in an Act which operates on a number of levels, each one of which is

   subject to the over-arching, predominant imperative to operate consistently

   with the principal object of the Act.



18. The principal object reads, relevantly, as follows:



          “The principal object of this Act is to provide a framework

          for cooperative workplace relations which promotes the

          economic prosperity and welfare of the people of Australia

          by:




                  FECCA Submission to Fair Pay Commission July 2006                    9
       (a) encouraging the pursuit of high employment, improved living

          standards, low inflation and international competitiveness

          through higher productivity and a flexible and fair labour

          market ; and



       (b) providing an economically sustainable safety net of minimum

          wages and conditions for those whose employment is

          regulated by this Act; and …



      (m) respecting and valuing the diversity of the workforce by

          helping to prevent and eliminate discrimination on the basis

          of race, colour, sex, sexual preference, age, physical or

          mental disability, marital status, family responsibilities,

          pregnancy, religion, political opinion, national extraction or

          social origin; and



        (n) assisting in giving effect to Australia’s international

          obligations in relation to labour standards.” (emphasis added)




19. Crucially , the principal object of the Act makes it clear that there can and do

   coexist parallel duties to combine a regard for economic prosperity with

   welfare; for flexibility with fairness; for safety nets with freedom from

   discrimination, and for international conventions to be observed, within the

   scheme in which the Act operates.




                  FECCA Submission to Fair Pay Commission July 2006                10
20. The High Court has made it clear that, in interpreting legislation which protects

      or enforces human rights (as do key parts of the Workplace Relations Act 1996,

      including s 222) , the objects of the legislation are crucial and there is a special

      responsibility to take account of and give effect to statutory objects.3



21. The principal object of the Act permeates its operation. The entities created by

      the Act cannot escape the operation of these objects. Any attempt to do so

      would expose decisions of that entity to jurisdictional challenge.




WELFARE AND A FAIR LABOUR MARKET



22. The deliberate reference, in the principal object of the Act, to welfare and to a

      fair labour market requires the AFPC to turn its mind to considerations of

      fairness and welfare in reaching its decision.



23. Setting too low a wage would, in FECCA’s submission, militate against the

      obligation of fairness and would be detrimental to the welfare of the people of

      Australia. Analysts have noted that recent research by the OECD, in its 2006

      unemployment outlook report, indicates that “the fact that a considerable

      number of studies have found that the adverse impact of minimum wages on

      employment is modest or non-existent, also suggests that there may be scope

      to use minimum wages as one part of employment-centred social policy

      intended to mitigate poverty while fostering high employment rates”4 and




3
    Waters v Public Transport Corporation (1992) 17 CLR 349 at 359 per Mason CJ, Gaudron J.
4
    “Test for Safety Net” D Uren – The Australian – 22 July 2006
                        FECCA Submission to Fair Pay Commission July 2006                     11
    that there is “no significant direct impact of the level of the minimum wage on

    unemployment”.5



24. FECCA believes that there is ample evidence to demonstrate that Australia’s

    labour market, including both the people and the companies involved, would

    not be well served by further developing of a low paid, low wage sector. The

    experience of people from CLDB backgrounds and others is that such jobs are by

    and large not the first step up on a ladder. Instead, low pay encourages a work

    culture which does not provide adequate safety, training and career continuity.6

    Low pay does not stimulate the kind of responses amongst either employees or

    their employers that are needed to create sustainable jobs in a modern, rapidly

    changing economy.




INTERNATIONAL CONVENTIONS



25. As noted earlier, the principal object of the Act has the effect of exhorting all

    who exercise powers under it to assist in giving effect to Australia’s

    international obligations in relation to labour standards. Australia is signatory to

    a number of international conventions.



“Anti-Discrimination” Conventions


26. For the specific purposes of the AFPC and s 222 (see below), it should be noted

    that the Racial Discrimination Act 1975, Sex Discrimination Act 1984, Disability

5
  “OECD exposes blind faith in the IR mantra” R Gittins, “The Age’ 17 June 2006.
6
   “Loyalty is a One Way Street: NESB Immigrants and Long- Term Unemployment” Toni O’Loughlin &
Ian Watson Aust Centre for Industrial Relations Research and Training University of Sydney 2000 ISBN
1 86451 320 9
                      FECCA Submission to Fair Pay Commission July 2006                           12
    Discrimination Act 1992 and Age Discrimination Act 2004 are all underpinned by

    such conventions. Each of these contemplates7 a labour market free from

    unlawful discrimination, whether direct or indirect. In addition, the AFPC is

    required, under s 222 (1) (d), to take into account the principles embodied in

    the Family Responsibilities Convention.



Other Relevant International Conventions


27. On a more general plane, in the light of the principal object of the Act

    concerning international conventions, it should be noted that the Minimum

    Wage Fixing Convention envisages, in its preamble, that there be protection

    for wage earners against unduly low wages. That Convention also provides that

    the elements to be taken into consideration in determining the level of

    minimum wages shall, so far as possible and appropriate in relation to national

    practice and conditions, include the needs of workers and their families, taking

    into account the general level of wages in the country, the cost of living, social

    security benefits and the relative living standards of other social groups8.



28. Similarly, the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights

    provides that all workers, as a minimum, should receive fair wages and equal

    remuneration for work of equal value without distinction of any kind and a

    decent living for themselves and their families.9



29. Where legislation has been enacted pursuant to, or in contemplation of, the

    assumption of international obligations under a treaty or international

7  For example, International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination art 5 (e)
(i), the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women art 11 (d).
8 Art 3 (a)
9 Art 7 (a)

                        FECCA Submission to Fair Pay Commission July 2006                                   13
     convention, it is well established that, in cases of ambiguity, a construction

     which accords with Australia’s obligations should be preferred10.



SECTION 23 – THE WAGE SETTING PARAMETERS


30. The objective of the AFPC in s 23 must be read in this context. That section

     provides that the AFPC , in performing its wage setting function, is to promote

     the economic prosperity of the people of Australia having regard to:



     the capacity for the unemployed and low paid to obtain and remain in

     employment;

     employment and competitiveness across the economy;

     providing a safety net for the low paid ;

     providing minimum wages for junior employees, employees to whom training

     arrangements apply and employees with disabilities that ensure those

     employees are competitive in the labour market. (emphasis added).



The Obligation to “Have Regard To” Certain Matters in s 23


31. Section 23 is patently not an exhaustive statement of what the AFPC must

     consider. The obligation to ‘have regard to’ certain matters simply means that
                                                                         11
     they must be taken into account as a fundamental element                 - not that they

     are the only matters which the AFPC must take into consideration.




10
   Plaintiff S157/2002 v Commonwealth (2003 HCA3) per Gleeson CJ at [29]. See also Minister for
Immigration and Ethnic Affairs v Teoh (1995) 183 CLR 273; Chu Kheng Lim v Minister for
Immigration (1992) 176 CLR 1.
11
   R v Hunt; Ex p Sean Investments P/L (1979) 25 ALR 497 at p 504
                      FECCA Submission to Fair Pay Commission July 2006                         14
32. The Act makes it quite clear that there are important matters outside the

   purview of s 23 which bind the AFPC . FECCA expects that all decisions of the

   AFPC (and, especially, its first decision ),will fully address these matters –

   which include considerations of welfare, fairness and prevention and

   elimination of discrimination. Taken as a whole, these considerations do impose

   upon the AFPC a duty not only to make fair decisions but also to ensure that its

   decisions do not discriminate unlawfully – whether directly or indirectly – and

   are consistent with international obligations.



SECTION 222 – ANTI-DISCRIMINATION CONSIDERATIONS



33. The principal object of the Act is supplemented by s 222, which makes it clear

   that (without limiting ss 176 and 177), in exercising any of its powers under Div

   2 of Div 7, the AFPC is to :




   apply the principal of equal remuneration for work of equal value,

   have regard to the need to provide pro rata disability pay methods for

   employees with disabilities,

   take into account of the principles embodied in the Racial Discrimination Act

   1975, the Sex Discrimination Act 1984, the Disability Discrimination Act 1992

   and the Age Discrimination Act 2004 relating to discrimination in employment,

   take account of the principles embodied in the Family Responsibilities

   Convention ,

   ensure that its decisions do not contain provisions that discriminate because of

   or for reasons including race, colour, sex, sexual preference, age, physical or


                  FECCA Submission to Fair Pay Commission July 2006                  15
     mental disability, marital status, family responsibilities, pregnancy, religion,

     political opinion, national extraction or social origin.



34. The reference to ss 176 and 177 does not displace the observations made

     earlier, in relation to the AFPC’s duty to honour and observe the principal

     object of the Act and to the non-exhaustive operation of the expression ‘have

     regard to’.



35. Indeed, s 222 fortifies the analysis contended for above, that s 23 cannot be

     viewed as a stand alone, ‘vacuum sealed’ arbiter of wage fixing parameters. As

     mentioned above, s 23 is embedded in an Act which operates on a number of

     levels, each one of which is subject to the over-arching imperative to operate

     consistently with the principal object.



The Meaning of “Discrimination”



36. In so far as s 222 exhorts the AFPC to observe anti-discrimination principles,

     FECCA considers that this must necessarily contemplate a duty to ensure that

     decisions of the AFPC are neither directly nor indirectly discriminatory. If there

     were any doubt, it would be dispelled by the specific reference to the Racial

     Discrimination Act 1975, the Sex Discrimination Act 1984, the Disability

     Discrimination Act 1992 and the Age Discrimination Act 2004, all of which are

     careful to recognise both direct and indirect12 discrimination.




12
  Sections s 9 (1A) Racial Discrimination Act 1975 , ss5-7B Sex Discrimination Act 1984 ; ss5,6
Disability Discrimination Act 1992; s 15 Age Discrimination Act 2004

                      FECCA Submission to Fair Pay Commission July 2006                           16
37. Indirect discrimination essentially involves the imposition of a facially neutral

     condition, which, in practice, operates to the detriment of a protected class

     and which is unreasonable in the circumstances. An example would be the

     setting of a wage or wage rate at a level so unreasonably low that, although it

     might apply uniformly to the working population, it would, in practice,

     operate in a disparate, negative fashion, to the disadvantage of those who were

     in poor bargaining positions by virtue of their race, gender, age or disability.



38. The Act addresses, to some extent the position of junior employees or those

     with disabilities13, (in effect permitting discrimination in those cases ) but,

     importantly, it does not address discriminatory outcomes which might flow

     because of characteristics allied to sex or race.



39. This evinces an express intention by the legislature that the other identified

     vulnerable groups (women, people from CLDB, people with family

     responsibilities etc) are entitled to and must have their interests specifically

     addressed.



40. We further consider that the specific exhortation to ‘take account of the

     principles’ embodied in the anti-discrimination laws obliges the AFPC to embark

     on an examination of both direct and indirect discrimination and expressly to

     justify its decisions in these terms, in order to meet its minimum and basic

     statutory obligations.




13
  s 222(2) permits special arrangements for junior employees, employees with a disability and
employees to whom training arrangements apply.
                      FECCA Submission to Fair Pay Commission July 2006                         17
41. FECCA is deeply concerned that the AFPC’s invitation for submissions omitted

     any mention of the requirements of s 222 – that is, the anti-discrimination

     provisions. FECCA trusts that this was a mere oversight rather than deliberate

     avoidance of that part of the AFPC’s responsibilities.



42. FECCA also notes that the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission

     (HREOC) has already expressed concern that the potential exists for indirect

     discrimination to permeate the setting of minimum wages14 . Given that the

     AFPC has therefore, in effect, been forewarned of this potential, FECCA trusts

     that the AFPC will take measures to ensure that this does not occur.



A MATRIX OF FAIRNESS



43. FECCA notes that the word “Fair” appears in the name of the AFPC. This, in

     itself, must be accorded weight because it is a cardinal principle of statutory

     interpretation that the grammatical and ordinary sense of words is to be

     adhered to and that “the onus of showing that the words do not mean what

     they say lies heavily on the party who alleges it”.15. The alternative, that a

     body named the “Fair” Pay Commission does not have to consider the ‘fairness’

     of its decisions, cannot be countenanced in the absence of express provision in

     the legislation. To do so would lead to absurdity, which is a result to be avoided

     in interpreting legislation. Where two meanings are open, it is proper to adopt




14
   HREOC Submission to the Senate Employment, Workplace Relations and Education Legislation
Committee's Inquiry into the Workplace Relations Amendment (WorkChoices) Bill 2005.
- http://www.hreoc.gov.au/legal/submissions/workplace_relations_amendment_2005.html, as
further affected by the letter from the President of HREOC to the Committee in a letter dated 21
November 2005.
15
   Higgins J in Australian Boot Trade Employees Federation v Whybrow & Co (1930) 11 CLR 311 at
341
                        FECCA Submission to Fair Pay Commission July 2006                        18
     that meaning that will avoid consequences that appear irrational and unjust16.

     Had the legislature wished to generate such a result, it could have, but did not,

     take that opportunity. On the contrary, there are numerous, clear, signposts

     within the legislation that the operation of the entire Act (which must include

     the AFPC) must be fair.



44. For the reasons already set out above , FECCA considers that s 222, in

     combination with the principal object of the Act, which adverts to the welfare

     of the people of Australia, to the attainment of both a fair and a flexible labour

     market, to preventing and eliminating discrimination and giving effect to

     Australia’s international obligations, provides a matrix of fairness within which

     the AFPC must operate. Whether or not one chooses to use the vocabulary of

     ‘fairness’, this is the practical effect.



45. Should it be said that there is any ambiguity on this point (which we do not

     accept), the matter may in any event be resolved by resort to the Second

     Reading Speech for the amending legislation, in which fairness is a deliberate,

     consistent and recurring theme. The Second Reading Speech refers to

     “advancing prosperity and fairness together”, “a fair and robust safety net of

     working conditions”, “big but fair changes”, “prosperity and fairness” and a

     “fair and balanced safety net”.



46. Wages are a core feature of any scheme of industrial regulation. It would be

     absurd to suggest that, in the Second Reading Speech, the references to

     ‘fairness’ were not intended to encompass the crucial issue of wages. Where


16
  Gibbs CJ in Public Transport Corporation of New South Wales v J Murray-More (NSW) Pty Ltd
(1975) 6 ALR 271 at 282
                      FECCA Submission to Fair Pay Commission July 2006                       19
      the legislature has repeatedly expressed this desire for fairness, it would , in

      FECCA’s view, be additionally inappropriate for the AFPC to disregard fairness

      in the setting of minimum wages.



FURTHER RELEVANT CONSIDERATIONS



47. FECCA notes that various State Wage Cases had been conducted at the time of

      writing this submission and that, in South Australia the Industrial Relations

      Commission has awarded a minimum weekly award rise of $ 17 for workers

      earning up to $ 570 a week and $ 18 for those earning more than $ 570 a

      week17. FECCA also notes that the New South Wales and Western Australian

      Commissions awarded low paid award reliant workers minimum award rises of

      $20 a week18.



48. Any national result which was inferior to these would, in FECCA’s view, have

      the undesirable effect of creating a double standard in the market place. Were

      the AFPC to set wages at lower levels, this would compound discrimination

      suffered by workers from CLDB, who are unfortunate enough to be caught by

      the Workplace Relations Act 1996.



49. FECCA also supports the granting of an increase which would operate

      retrospectively, given that low paid workers caught by the federal system have

      not had a pay rise since 7 June 2005.




17
     5 July 2006
18
     Decisions of 26 June 2006
                         FECCA Submission to Fair Pay Commission July 2006               20
CONCLUSION


50. FECCA notes that the AFPC is obliged to publish its wage setting decisions19 .

      FECCA looks forward to the AFPC’s explanation of how it took into account the

      principal object of the Act and the principles embodied in the anti-

      discrimination statutes., including details of the research commissioned for this

      purpose, into the effect of its decision on people from CLDB.



51. FECCA and its constituency await the first decision of the AFPC with great

      interest. The AFPC’s first decision will send an important message to the

      community about the attitude of that body to the concerns of people from CLDB

      , about the AFPC’s consciousness of its duty to protect such groups in the

      community and its obligations to observe the principles under anti-

      discrimination laws (and in particular, the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 ).



52. FECCA is available for discussion, should the AFPC require further information

      about the content of this submission.



28 July 2006




19
     s 26
                     FECCA Submission to Fair Pay Commission July 2006                21

				
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