Unions win pay rise for over 2 million workers

Published: 30/06/2021
Category: Minimum wage
Published: 30/06/2021
Category: Minimum wage

Over two million workers are set to get a 2.5% pay rise after a hard-fought campaign by Australian unions.

The pay rise comes from the 2021 Annual Wage Review decision – the yearly review of the national minimum wage conducted by the Fair Work Commission (FWC).

This year, a wage increase was critical to Australia’s economic recovery. Wage growth has been stagnant for years, leaving workers struggling to keep up with the cost of living and with little money to spend into the economy.

What you need to know
  • The national minimum wage has been increased to $20.33 per hour

  • The new minimum wage rate begins July 1st 2021

  • Award wage increases in some industries have been delayed by three to five months

Despite the financial hardship experienced by many workers during the worst of the pandemic, the union movement’s call for a wage increase faced intense opposition from big business.

In their submissions to the Annual Wage Review, business lobby groups including the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Australian Industry Group urged the FWC to limit any increase in the minimum wage to just 1.1 per cent or no rise at all.

But thanks to the tireless campaigning efforts of union members, the FWC agreed that the disadvantage and hardship experienced by workers in the year in review, supported a wage increase.

ACTU Secretary Sally McManus said this was a significant achievement by the union movement which will deliver real improvements for over two million Australian workers.

“This happened because of the trade union movement. We’re the only people in the corner of working people arguing for wage increases and winning them.”

Minimum Wage Frequently Asked Questions

The national minimum wage is the lowest rate at which you can be paid, no matter what job you are doing. The only employees who can be paid less than the national minimum wage are:

  • Young workers aged 21
  • Workers on the Supported Wage System
  • Apprentices and Trainees

For everyone else, the national minimum wage is the absolute lowest you can be paid. It is illegal for your boss to pay you less.

As of 1 July 2021, the national minimum wage is $20.33 per hour or $772.60 per week for full time workers.

The 2.5% increase will mean an extra $18.80 a week for Australia’s lowest-paid full-time workers.

The increase applies to anyone who is paid minimum award wages or the national minimum wage. That’s around 2.3 million workers or one in five workers.

Most employees are covered by an award. If you’re not sure which award applies, contact your union or the Australian Unions Support Centre.

The increase to the National Minimum Wage and Special National Minimum Wages will take effect from the first pay period which starts on or after 1 July.

Unfortunately, the FWC has chosen to delay the pay increase for workers on some awards. The increase to modern award minimum wages will take effect from the first pay period starting on or after the dates listed below.

1 July 2021

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Practitioners and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services Award 2020
  • Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement Award 2016 [MA000139]
  • Aged Care Award 2010
  • Aluminium Industry Award 2020
  • Ambulance and Patient Transport Industry Award 2020
  • Animal Care and Veterinary Services Award 2020
  • Aquaculture Industry Award 2020
  • Architects Award 2010
  • Asphalt Industry Award 2010
  • Australian Broadcasting Corporation Enterprise Award 2016 [MA000147]
  • Australian Bureau of Statistics (Interviewers) Enterprise Award 2016 [MA000143]
  • Australian Capital Territory Public Sector Enterprise Award 2016 [MA000146]
  • Australian Federal Police Enterprise Award 2016 [MA000142]
  • Australian Government Industry Award 2016 [MA000153]
  • Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) Enterprise Award 2016 [MA000144]
  • Australian Public Service Enterprise Award 2015 [MA000124]
  • Australia Post Enterprise Award 2015 [MA000137]
  • Banking, Finance and Insurance Award 2020
  • Black Coal Mining Industry Award 2010 [MA000001]
  • Book Industry Award 2020
  • Broadcasting, Recorded Entertainment and Cinemas Award 2010
  • Building and Construction General On-site Award 2020 [MA000020]
  • Business Equipment Award 2010
  • Car Parking Award 2020
  • Cement, Lime and Quarrying Award 2010
  • Cemetery Industry Award 2020
  • Children’s Services Award 2010
  • Christmas Island Administration Enterprise Award 2016 [MA000149]
  • Chullora Printing Award 2015 [MA000127]
  • Cleaning Services Award 2010
  • Clerks – Private Sector Award 2010
  • Coal Export Terminals Award 2020 [MA000045]
  • Commercial Sales Award 2010
  • Concrete Products Award 2010
  • Contract Call Centres Award 2010
  • Corrections and Detention (Private Sector) Award 2020
  • Cotton Ginning Award 2020
  • CSIRO Enterprise Award 2016 [MA000148]
  • Dredging Industry Award 2020 [MA000085]
  • Educational Services (Post-Secondary Education) Award 2010
  • Educational Services (Schools) General Staff Award 2010
  • Educational Services (Teachers) Award 2010
  • Electrical Power Industry Award
  • Electrical, Electronic and Communications Contracting Award 2020 [MA000025]
  • Fast Food Industry Award 2010
  • Fire Fighting Industry Award
  • Food, Beverage and Tobacco Manufacturing Award 2010
  • Funeral Industry Award 2010
  • Gardening and Landscaping Services Award 2020
  • Gas Industry Award
  • GrainCorp Country Operations Award 2015 [MA000138]
  • Graphic Arts, Printing and Publishing Award 2010
  • Health Professionals and Support Services Award 2010
  • Health Professionals, Medical Scientists and Support Services (Victoria) State Reference Public Sector Modern Award 2018 [MA000157]
  • Higher Education Industry-Academic Staff-Award 2010
  • Higher Education Industry-General Staff-Award 2010
  • Horse and Greyhound Training Award 2010
  • Horticulture Award 2010
  • Hydrocarbons Field Geologists Award 2020 [MA000064]
  • Hydrocarbons Industry (Upstream) Award 2020 [MA000062]
  • Joinery and Building Trades Award
  • Journalists Published Media Award 2010
  • Labour Market Assistance Industry Award 2010
  • Legal Services Award 2020
  • Local Government Industry Award 2010
  • Manufacturing and Associated Industries and Occupations Award 2010
  • Market and Social Research Award 2020
  • Marine Towage Award
  • Maritime Offshore Oil and Gas Award 2020 [MA000086]
  • Meat Industry Award 2010
  • Medical Practitioners Award 2020
  • Metropolitan Newspapers (South Australia and Tasmania) Printing Award 2015 [MA000130]
  • Miscellaneous Award 2010
  • Mining Industry Award
  • Mobile Crane Hiring Award
  • Northern Territory Public Secor Enterprise Award 2016
  • Northern Territory News Award 2015 [MA000129]
  • Note Printing Australia Award
  • Nurses Award 2010
  • Nurses and Midwives (Victoria) State Reference Public Sector Award 2015 [MA000125]
  • Nurses (ANMF – Victorian Local Government) Award 2015 [MA000131]
  • Oil Refining and Manufacturing Award 2020 [MA000072]
  • Optus Award 2015 [MA000133]
  • Parliamentary Departments Staff Enterprise Award 2016 [MA000145]
  • Passenger Vehicle Transportation Award 2010
  • Pastoral Award 2010
  • Pest Control Industry Award 2010
  • Pharmaceutical Industry Award 2010
  • Pharmacy Industry Award 2010
  • Plumbing and Fire Sprinklers Award 2020 [MA000036]
  • Ports, Harbours and Enclosed Water Vessels Award 2020 [MA000052]
  • Port Authorities Award 2020 [MA000051]
  • Poultry Processing Award 2010
  • Premixed Concrete Award 2020
  • Printing Industry – Herald & Weekly Times – Production Award 2015 [MA000126]
  • Professional Diving Industry (Industrial) Award 2020 [MA000108]
  • Professional Diving Industry (Recreational) Award 2010
  • Professional Employees Award 2010
  • Queensland Newspapers Pty Ltd Printing (Murarrie) Award 2015 [MA000128]
  • Rail Industry Award 2010
  • Real Estate Industry Award 2020
  • Reserve Bank of Australia Award 2016 [MA000140]
  • Road Transport (Long Distance Operations) Award 2010
  • Road Transport and Distribution Award 2010
  • Salt Industry Award 2010
  • Seafood Processing Award 2020
  • Seagoing Industry Award 2020 [MA000122]
  • Security Services Industry Award 2010
  • Silviculture Award 2020
  • Social, Community, Home Care and Disability Services Industry Award 2010
  • State Government Agencies Award 2020
  • Stevedoring Industry Award
  • Storage Services and Wholesale Award 2010
  • Sugar Industry Award 2010
  • Supported Employment Services Award 2010
  • Surveying Award 2020
  • Telecommunications Services Award 2010
  • Telstra Award 2015
  • Textile, Clothing, Footwear and Associated Industries Award 2010
  • Timber Industry Award 2010
  • Transport (Cash in Transit) Award 2010
  • Vehicle Repair, Services and Retail Award 2010
  • Victorian Government Schools Award 2016 [MA000155]
  • Victorian Government Schools – Early Childhood – Award 2016 [MA000152]
  • Victorian Local Government Award 2015 [MA000132]
  • Victorian Local Government (Early Childhood Education Employees) Award 2016 [MA000150]
  • Victorian Public Service Award 2016 [MA000135]
  • Victorian State Government Agencies Award 2015 [MA000134]
  • Viterra Bulk Handling and Storage of Grains, Pulses and Minerals Award 2015 [MA000136]
  • Waste Management Award 2010
  • Water Industry Award 2020
  • Wool Storage, Sampling and Testing Award 2010

1 September 2021

  • General Retail Industry Award 2010

1 November 2021

  • Air Pilots Award 2010
  • Aircraft Cabin Crew Award 2010
  • Airline Operations-Ground Staff Award 2010
  • Airport Employees Award 2010
  • Airservices Australia Enterprise Award 2016 [MA000141]
  • Alpine Resorts Award 2010
  • Amusement, Events and Recreation Award 2010
  • Dry Cleaning and Laundry Industry Award 2010
  • Fitness Industry Award 2010
  • Hair and Beauty Industry Award 2010
  • Hospitality Industry (General) Award 2010
  • Live Performance Award 2010
  • Mannequins and Models Award 2010
  • Marine Tourism and Charter Vessels Award 2010
  • Nursery Award 2020
  • Racing Clubs Events Award 2010
  • Racing Industry Ground Maintenance Award 2020
  • Registered and Licensed Clubs Award 2010
  • Restaurant Industry Award 2010
  • Sporting Organisations Award 2020
  • Travelling Shows Award 2020
  • Wine Industry Award 2010

Underpayment means being paid less than what you are entitled to. Depending on where you work, this can mean being paid less than you are entitled to under the relevant award or agreement, or less than the national minimum wage.

Not paying entitlements such as superannuation or penalty rates is also a form of underpayment.

If you think that you are being underpaid, follow these steps:

  • Find out how much you should be getting paid (including superannuationpenalty rates and other entitlements). If you’re not sure how to do this, the best thing to do is speak to your union.
  • Compare what you should be paid to how much you’re actually being paid by reading your payslip.
  • If you think that you are not being paid correctly get in touch with your workplace representative from your union or contact the Australian Unions Support Centre


Want better pay?

Unions win pay rise for over 2 million workers

Unions win pay rise for over 2 million workers