You may have seen a few memes lately about Scott Morrison and a $1 pay rise – and there’s good reason.
Each year Australian Unions call for an increase to the minimum wage to keep up with the cost of living. In 2022 that equals 5.5% – or $1 per hour – but Scott Morrison doesn’t back it.
The cost of living is going up, and wages aren’t keeping up. Quite simply, if wage rises don’t match inflation, then you’re taking a pay cut.
Director of the Centre for Future Work Dr Jim Stanford says that Australia is experiencing the weakest wage growth in the post-war era – to find anything worse you’d need to go back to the 1930’s (which was the beginning of the Great Depression let’s not forget).
What’s the big deal over $1?
A pay increase benefits women both in and out of the workforce.
In Australia, one in four employees rely on minimum or Award wages – and two thirds of those workers are women. Additionally, women make up the majority of casual or insecurely employed workers and insecure work is a growing issue under the Morrison Government.
The minimum wage is not the same across all industries. Industries that are predominantly made up of female workers – 86% of aged care and 95% of childcare workforces – have lower minimum wage standards. This says a lot about the devaluation of women’s work, and makes wage increases a gender equity issue.
During the pandemic, the cracks the Morrison Government had deepened into gendered division of labour were fully exposed. The increase in unpaid caring duties such as childcare and household management saw more women leave the labour market, with poor access to care assistance a barrier for women returning to work. Policy Director, Social and Industrial with the Centre for Future Work Dr Fiona Macdonald says, ‘To get good quality care, you need a well-paid workforce’.
A 5.5% wage increase would funnel money back into women’s pockets in insecure or casual work and those working in lower paid industries. It would also help relieve women of unpaid caring duties through access to better care, giving them the ability to return to work – which is a big step towards closing the gender pay gap.
What can I do about it?
We know that if we leave it up to big business and the Morrison Government to have all the say on wages, we’d be a country of people always working yet always poor.
Morrison could be working with unions to create wage growth and more secure jobs. He could ask the Fair Work Commission to give low paid workers a proper pay rise. But instead he is leaving workers out in the cold.