The Australian Fair Pay Commission has decided to leave Australia's federal minimum wage unchanged at $543.78 per week.
In its fourth and final minimum-wage setting decision (before it is replaced by a division of Fair Work Australia) the Commission elected to freeze low wages and maintain Australian Pay and Classification Scales at their current levels because of the shaky labour market.
"These are uncertain times for the economy," Commission chairman Professor Ian Harper said. "This is not the time to risk the jobs of low paid Australians by increasing minimum wages."
The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry welcomed the decision, saying that it was the best outcome for both employers and employees and will protect jobs.
However, Acting Prime Minister Julia Gillard said that the decision was "a disappointing one for those Australians who live on minimum wages and do it tough."
And the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), which had been pushing for a minimum-wage increase of $21 a week, described the move as "another kick in the guts for working Australians".
"The Fair Pay Commission has saved its worst for last," ACTU secretary Jeff Lawrence said.
"The real wages of low paid workers have gone backwards since the Commission was established, and today's decision is another attack on their living standards."
In other news, a Dun and Bradstreet survey of business expectations has revealed that 24 per cent of Australian employers are planning to lay off staff in the next three months, and almost half expect sales to fall.
If you have some HR news to share or would like to suggest a topic for an article, click here to email the editor.