Pay rises don’t just happen. Somebody has to ask for them.
This week, Australian Unions are doing just that. We’re making our case to the annual wage review for a rise in the minimum wage.
Let’s break down what the annual wage review is and what it could mean for you.
What exactly is the annual wage review?
In Australia, the independent workplace umpire, the Fair Work Commission, sets the minimum wage for employees under our national workplace relations system.
They review the minimum wage every year, making a decision based on a combination of their own research and submissions by unions (hi!), business lobby groups and employer organisations.
Wait, have you tuned out already?
No, no. It sounds, errr… interesting?
Yeah ok. Admittedly, the review process sounds a little dull. But it’s such an important battle to improve the wages and the lives of millions of workers in Australia.
Millions of workers? Including me?
Well, there are around 2.3 million workers who are paid the minimum wage or have their pay set by awards (an awards sets minimum industry employment wages and conditions).
This means a wage increase will flow through to one in five workers in Australia.
It’s also the ONLY guaranteed wage increase anywhere in the economy so it’s a pretty big deal.
Ok, now I am actually interested. So, how much will the minimum wage go up this year?
Oh, love your enthusiasm but we won’t know for a few more months.
The thing about the minimum wage increase, and well most wage increases, is that they don’t happen without someone asking for them. That’s where unions come in.
This year, Australian Unions is making a claim for a 3.5% increase to the minimum wage.
For years now, the union movement has been trying to achieve something called a “living wage”. This means an increase in minimum wages that is high enough that workers can live on it comfortably.
We used to lead the world when it came to providing a living wage, but now we are lagging behind. An increase of 3.5% will go a long way towards catching up.
With profits up 9%, and jobs returning to pre-Covid levels, it’s time we support workers who have been struggling to get by.
That sounds fair. What’s the problem?
Well, the problem is not everyone wants to see an increase in the minimum wage.
In fact, big business groups actively lobby the Government for wage increases to be frozen or to have a minimal increase.
We hear you.
The current minimum wage rate is set at $19.84 an hour, or $753.80 a week for full time workers. This is simply not enough.
Just like you, we want to see a boost in living standards for all workers.
We want to see wages grow, spending grow and the economy grow. Increasing the minimum wage improves the lives, working conditions and opportunities for all workers, even those whose wages aren’t set by the minimum wage.
We want to see a fairer, more equal Australia where all workers earn enough to live on.
Um, surely the Government wants that too?
Yeah, look. To you and me, it seems obvious right? No full-time worker should live in poverty.
Rather than lining the pockets of a few big business executives, we expect our Government to help all workers get beyond simply treading water, to living a decent quality of life.
But big business has too much power over the Morrison Government, so the Morrison Government keeps choosing the side of big business over workers.
Well, how can we get the Government on the side of workers instead?
Come on now, you know the answer to that…
It’s joining my union, isn’t it?
Bingo. See, this is what Australian Unions do. We fight for you to have better wages and conditions.
And the more of us in a union, the bigger the chance of getting better deal.
Are you in?