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Apprentices win pay rise

Editorial
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The Fair Work Commission has awarded first and second-year apprentices pay rises of up to $100 a week.

As News.com.au reports, first-year apprentices who have completed Year 12 will now receive $398.50 per week, or an increase of 30 per cent. And the pay of second-year apprentices who have completed year 12 will increase by 18 per cent.

The move was welcomed by The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU).

ACTU secretary Dave Oliver called the decision a "great outcome for current and future apprentices and for the broader economy".

"Current wages see apprentices barely able to meet living costs; they are considerably less than other job options and barely more than the Newstart allowance," he said.

"There is also little recognition of the needs of adult apprentices. Today's decision is a real step forward."

However, as the ABC reports, the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) was less enthusiastic about the decision.

Andrew Dettmer from the AMWU criticised the decision on the grounds that those who are already in the system will receive no pay rise.

"We know that there are many apprentices who are failing to complete their apprenticeship because of the low rates of pay and that was the evidence that we led and wasn't contradicted," Dettmer said.

"We know therefore that by only applying to prospective apprentices that we're going to have a situation where the existing apprentices won't see their rates of pay addressed."

The decision was not welcomed by Master Electricians Australia (MEA). The Australian reports that the organisation said the increases "would destroy the apprenticeship system and kill future apprenticeship opportunities for the building and construction industry".

MEA Workplace Relations Manager Jason O'Dwyer said the wage rises "represented a significant blow for productivity in the industry and for Australia's economy".

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