By David Bates

I genuinely try not to let cynicism get the better of me. I make a real effort to see the positives in our economy, I try to listen attentively to well-meaning (but usually deeply misguided and/or ill-informed union officials), and I do my very best to approach meetings with the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) with an open mind.

But just when I think I’m on top of my cynicism, the Fair Work Commission (FWC) announces its annual Minimum Wage Order and I come crashing back to earth.

Because as sure as unions will demand a hefty increase, and employer groups will demand virtually no increase at all, so the FWC will inevitably announce a compromise increase that makes everyone unhappy. It’s about as unpredictable as reading a Dan Brown novel (‘Oh no, another code, what does it mean?! Oh wait, I studied this precise, mysterious, and previously unknown code at university…phew!).

So last week I tuned in to the ‘live stream broadcast’ of the Commission’s minimum wage decision for 2015-16 (I skipped the popcorn, but did enjoy a super-sized Coke Zero), and watched as the Commission once again handed down its annual wage compromise – to the dismay of absolutely every single ‘stakeholder’.

Their decision was to increase the minimum wage by 2.5% to $656.90 per week.

According to Dave Oliver of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU): “We just can’t win”. And then this from Jenny Lambert of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI): “…it (the decision)…creates winners and losers amongst those in employment.”

So now the FWC will begin the job of updating the thousands of different minimum pay rates found in the nation’s 122 Modern Awards, and helpfully draft new ‘factsheets’ for employers and employees to download.

The FWO will now retrain all its Advice Line staff, and update its website with new guidance about this ‘important’ decision.

Meanwhile businesses will get on with the job of employing people, producing wealth, and paying tax to keep all these public servants in gainful employment.

And unions and employer groups will almost immediately begin work on their submissions for next year’s Minimum Wage Decision. I can hardly wait for the live stream broadcast! Let the countdown and popcorn making begin because the uncertainty of the outcome will surely make this compulsory viewing for every Australian.

Or not.