'Cautious approach' should be taken in any wage increase: Govt

AS IT considers more public service cuts recommended in the Queensland Commission of Audit, the state government is lobbying the Fair Work Commission not to increase real wages for workers across the state.

In a submission to the FWC Annual Wage Review 2012-13, the state argues the effects a deteriorating economic outlook and low productivity growth "has not been sufficient to justify an increase in real wages".

The state government argues Queensland workers should not be given pay rises over and above the normal increases in line with inflation.

It also advocated a "cautious approach" should be taken to increasing any award wages, to ensure wage costs for Queensland businesses were economically sustainable and consistent with the Fair Work Act.

Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie wrote that the likelihood of softening global demand, high Australian dollar, low inflation and an under-performing labour market suggested a limited scope for wage increases.

The submission was released a month ago, before the Commission of Audit recommended numerous changes in the state government, including outsourcing many government functions across health, transport and other sectors.

While it argued against an increase in real wages, the state government also advocated that apprentices and trainees should not receive any decrease in award wages, to keep those employees in work.

A similar position was argued by the New South Wales Government in its submission to the review, arguing the turnaround in that state's economy should not be put at risk by immoderate or unaffordable pay increases.

The final commission consultations on the wage review were due to be completed by the end of May, before the commission releases its final decision.

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