Union members are calling for a 5% increase to the minimum wage

Published: 28/03/2024
Category: Minimum wage
Published: 28/03/2024
Category: Minimum wage

Did you know that unions are the biggest reason that the minimum wage goes up?

This week, union members announced that we are calling for a 5% increase to help with the cost-of-living and make sure we’re getting our share of the profits we create.

Join thousands of workers behind the campaign – add your name.

On the side of working people (or not)

Every year, the Fair Work Commission (FWC) reviews the National Minimum Wage and awards wages to decide if they should be increased. This is called the Annual Wage Review, and it usually takes place from March to June, with the new rates coming into effect from 1 July.

To help make the decision, the Commission asks for submissions from interested parties on what they think should happen.

Every year, the union movement is the biggest voice for working people in the debate, and submits a claim for a fair increase that reflects the value of work and helps our lowest-paid workers with the cost of living.

This year our claim is 5% is because the lowest paid workers – the ones who are the hardest hit by inflation – need a 5% pay increase to start to get ahead again and make up for the real wage losses over the last few years. A 5% pay increase is fair and reasonable.

But there are also other powerful interests that come to the table too – and they are not on the side of working people: big business lobbyists, Coalition politicians, and conservative commentators who want lower wages for us and higher profits for themselves.

This year, some of them are calling for just a 2% increase, which would result in a real wage cut for workers.

It’s not a matter of affordability either – for some perspective, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia posted $10 billion in profit last financial year: it could pay for the entire union wage claim for 2.9 million workers of 5% and still be one of the most profitable businesses in the country.

The Irrelevance of Minimum Wages to Future Inflation

One of the key lines from big business for consistently arguing for little to no real wage increases, is that raising wages increases inflation.

The only problem with this ‘wage-price spiral’ concept? It’s little more than political spin, with no basis in reality.

In fact, since 1997, there has been no evidence of minimum wage rises correlating with – let alone causing – inflation, according to a newly-released report by the Australia Institute’s Centre for Future Work.

Even last year, when union members succeeded in winning the biggest rise to the national minimum wage in history of 8.65%, and 5.75% for workers on modern awards, inflation didn’t skyrocket. Far from it, actually: over the following year, inflation fell by 3 per cent.

So when you hear scaremongering big business lobbyists go on, once again, about any meaningful rise to the minimum wage stoking inflation and leading to the end of the world, remember this: every year, like clockwork, these predictions fail to come true.

Boosting minimum wage the right thing to do

After a decade of successive coalition governments – who had an explicit policy aim of driving down wages and keeping them low – it’s no wonder everyday Australians are feeling the pinch.

But thanks to the tireless work of union members over the past few years, the tide is slowly turning and more changes are on the way to support working people, like the recent passing of the Closing Loopholes bills.

The next and best way to support those doing it the toughest – the over 2.6 million workers who receive the minimum wage – is to give them a meaningful wage increase that will actually help workers keep their head above water.

Union members will always come together and fight for fair wages and conditions for workers. Not yet a member? Join the movement that is always on the side of working people.

Union members are calling for a 5% increase to the minimum wage

Union members are calling for a 5% increase to the minimum wage