The number of casual workers in Australia has climbed past the 2.2 million mark but the proportion of the workforce that is casual has steadied and another form of non-standard employment - independent contracting - has fallen over the last five years, according to the latest ABS data.
The Fair Work Commission has pushed the federal and state governments to show their hands in this year's wage review, asking them what dollar or percentage increase would constitute a "cautious" or "balanced" approach.
The ACTU has asked that a member of the minimum wage review panel stand aside on the grounds of "apprehended bias" after he sat on the Abbott Government's Commission of Audit, which recommended a radical reduction in the pay safety net. Meanwhile, retail super funds have begun legal action against the FWC.
The NSW Government has had a victory in its long-running battle to include compulsory superannuation increases within the public sector 2.5% wage cap, after the State's Court of Appeal quashed last year's IRC ruling that the wages cap only applied to Commission-awarded increases.
New analysis by the ACTU argues that the real agenda of the Commission of Audit's suggested changes to the national minimum wage is to reduce the pay safety net for 1.5 million workers who receive award minimum rates.
Advocating a much more severe cut to the Coalition's paid parental leave scheme than Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced on Tuesday, the National Audit Commission has recommended the government cap payments at average weekly earnings and plough the resulting savings into child care assistance.
The Abbott Government's Audit Commission report, released today, recommends axing the FWC's role in setting minimum wages, moving over a decade to a new, lower "minimum wage benchmark" of 44% of average weekly earnings, and allowing "regional variations" that would open up a gap of $100 a week between workers in Tasmania and those in four other states and territories.
NSW Shadow IR Minister Adam Searle says the Baird Government has "busted" its wages cap with a new deal that goes beyond the 2.5% public service limit by paying for two-thirds of a recent massive rise in police officers' insurance premiums.
ACCI says the new safety net established by modern awards in 2010 cured any gender-based pay inequities, in a submission to the Fair Work Commission full bench that is hearing a bid by three unions to win equal remuneration for child care workers.