The total wage 1966–1967

Updated time

Last updated

20 December 2016

In 1966 the Commission decided to abolish the distinction between the basic wage and margins.  It directed that these amounts be removed from awards, and replaced by the one amount of a total wage[1]. Wright J said:

‘One of the basic considerations affecting my decision is that, over the years, the Court and the Commission have come to regard the same general economic considerations - such as purchasing power of money and national productivity - as relevant to the level of marginal rates in the fashion that they have for a very long time been relevant to the basic wage level.’[2]

Claims for wage indexation continued to be rejected until 1975.  For example, in 1969 the Commission said:

‘As to automatic quarterly adjustments we reiterate what has been said before that the Commission should retain control over its own award wages and should not allow any form of automatic adjustment to them.  Accordingly we reject the claims for the reintroduction of basic wages and their automatic adjustment and also for the introduction of quarterly adjustments to minimum wages for adult males.’[3]

Instead in nearly annual National Wage Cases the Commission increased the total wage having regard to all the economic indicators before it:

  • by $2.00 in 1966[4];
  • by $1 in 1967[5];
  • by $1.35 in 1968[6];
  • by 3 per cent in 1969[7];
  • by 6 per cent in 1970[8];
  • by $2 per week in 1972[9];
  • by 2 per cent plus $2.50 in 1973[10];
  • and again the same in 1974[11]

In the 1974 decision the Commission expressed its concern about the many labour cost increases that were occurring outside National Wage Case increases:

‘Ever since 1967, it has been the hope of the Commission that the bulk of wage increases would come from national wage cases in which general increases on economic grounds would normally be awarded every year.  This approach was elaborated in some detail in the 1969 National Wage Case Decision.  The Commission’s hope has not been fulfilled.  In 1970, 1972 and again last year the Commission expressed its concern at the development of what has become known as the three-tiered wage system, with increases occurring as a result of national wage cases, industry awards and agreements, and overaward gains of varying amounts obtained from employers.’[12]

These concerns were to lead to the reintroduction of quarterly wage indexation in the next National Wage Case proceedings, in 1975, accompanied by a set of wage fixing principles which restricted what other increases would be awarded as discussed below.


[1] Basic Wage, Margins and Total Wage Case (1966) 115 CAR 93

[2] Ibid at 107

[3] 129 CAR 617 at 621

[4] Ibid

[5] National Wage Case (1967) 118 CAR 655

[6] National Wage Case (1968) 124 CAR 463

[7] National Wage Case (1969) 129 CAR 617

[8] National Wage Case (1970) 135 CAR 244

[9] National Wage Case (1972) 143 CAR 290

[10] National Wage Case (1973) 149 CAR 75

[11] National Wage Case (1974) 157 CAR 293

[12] Ibid at 301