The opportunity to see real wage growth for 2.3 million underpaid workers in Australia only comes around once a year.
The Annual Wage Review is a key moment where we work to close the gap between cost of living and wages.
But instead of supporting a real wage increase, Morrison and his big business buddies have refused to engage with the needs of struggling workers.
Why is the Annual Wage Review important?
The national minimum wage sits at just $20.33 per hour or $772.60 per week if you are working full-time. Industries also have their own minimum wages, outlined in Awards.
But workers’ pay is no longer keeping up with the rising cost of groceries, petrol or rent, says ACTU Secretary Sally McManus.
“The same people who were acknowledged as essential workers over the past two years now face a cost-of-living crisis and the Prime Minister has let them down again,” she says.
We have seen snail’s pace wage growth during the past nine years of Coalition Government. In fact, real wages have gone backwards under the Morrison Government in 2021.
That’s why each year Australian Unions puts in a submission to the Annual Wage Review to increase the minimum wage. We’re the only organisation that calls for a wage increase for all workers.
The Annual Wage Review is a process where the Fair Work Commission reviews and sets the minimum wages and pay rates in Awards for the next year in Australia.
We put in a submission each year calling for workers to have decent wage increases, while big business lobbies for minimal increases or even cuts.
This time we are pushing for a 5% pay rise for workers on Awards or the minimum wage. With exploding cost of living, workers need and deserve a genuine wage increase.
What is Morrison doing about it?
Yet again, Morrison is missing in action when workers need to be able to rely on him for support.
We asked him to back a 5% increase to wages but he has ignored the call, choosing to continue to put politics before workers and the community.
“For millions of workers, most of them women, the Annual Wage Review is their only
opportunity for a wage rise,” says Ms McManus.
“It’s incredibly disappointing that the Morrison Government is not joining unions in calling for a reasonable 5% rise.”
The same people who were acknowledged as essential workers over the past two years now face a cost-of-living crisis and the Prime Minister has let them down again.
The work done by workers in disability care, cleaning, security, groceries, delivery and dozens of other industries is critical to our society and that those workers deserve a pay rise.
But Morrison insists on keeping these essential jobs as low-paid as possible. His own submission to the Annual Wage Review says that the same people who kept Australia going through the pandemic and now face worsening cost-of-living deserve to be kept on low wages.
What about big business?
The Morrison Government and big business are on the same page when it comes to keeping wages low.
We can see the profit-over-people attitude in their submissions to the Annual Wage Review.
Some big business lobby groups have called for miniscule wage increases or even wage freezes despite the astronomical rise in daily costs like petrol and groceries. Any pay increase less than inflation is actually a real wage cut.
Others are calling for wage growth delays, and some are trying to dodge responsibility for employees by arguing for tax transfers.
Keep in mind that these huge companies are hardly struggling – they’ve seen their own profits massively grow last year. So they’re refusing to share those gains with the workers who have made that growth happen.
And another important thing to remember is that one third of big businesses paid $0 in company tax last year, despite their record profits.
Instead, we’re seeing them run scare campaigns so they can get away with exploitation.
We’ve had almost a decade of Liberal-National disappointments. Unions are here to stick up for workers when Scott Morrison won’t.
Creating a positive future for workers
Morrison and his big business buddies have no excuse in keeping workers in poverty. A minimum wage should serve as a living wage, allowing workers to enjoy decent leaving standards.
You shouldn’t have to scrape by to make ends meet. Union members earn, on average, $250 more per week than non-union members.
Workers in Australian unions continue to negotiate higher pay in ways that ensure all members get a decent, fair wages.