Australia’s lowest-paid workers should not have to carry the costs of job protection, the Chairman of the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council (ACSJC), Bishop Christopher Saunders, says in his annual Pastoral Letter for the Feast of St Joseph the Worker on May 1.

The Pastoral Letter refers to the Australian Fair Pay Commission’s current review of the federal minimum wage.

‘This wage should provide for a decent standard of living not only for workers but for their families’, said Bishop Saunders. ‘Currently it is not keeping pace with rising costs of living - particularly the skyrocketing costs of rent.

‘The Federal Government and the Fair Pay Commission must bear in mind those who have struggled to survive on low wages and income support when most benefited during the years of prosperity. This financial crisis was not of their making. They should not be deprived of the wage increases they need to meet their basic costs of living.

‘Those seeking work, too, need to be assured that they will be protected from poverty when they are in work.

‘Ensuring a decent minimum wage safety net will be a most important factor in providing security for working families who rely on the minimum wage and income support.

‘The fundamental rights of families to establish a home, to welcome the sacred gift of life and raise a family require the guarantee of a decent family wage’, Bishop Saunders said.