Unions welcome historic cost-of-living wage increase

Today’s Fair Work Commission announcement of an 8.6% increase for those on the minimum wage and 5.75% for those on award wages will be welcome relief for the 2.67 million Australian workers directly affected.

This increase for the lowest earners over the course of a year should get wages moving in the right direction.

With inflation running at 6.8% this will mean $66.50 more per week in the pocket of an entry level disability support worker and $51.08 per week in the pocket of an entry level shop worker.

Each year, the Fair Work Commission sets the wage floor for workers in Australia. For Australia’s 2.67 million minimum wage and award wage workers, unless they bargain with their employer, this is the only mechanism for getting a pay rise. Today’s cost-of-living increase ensures they won’t go backwards.

Business is posting record profits this year – they can afford this raise.

When workers have more money in their pockets, they spend it in local shops and cafes. This increase not only helps workers to pay their bills and put food on the table, it means they can support local businesses. This is good for the economy.

Quotes attributable to ACTU Secretary Sally McManus:

“The union movement fought hard for these increases, which will really help millions of working people to stay afloat. It is a critical increase during this cost-of-living crisis.

“As it does every year, big business pushed hard for a cut that would see Australia’s lowest paid workers go backwards by at least $1350 a year. Today’s 5.75 % increase for award workers means they can just keep up with the cost of living. It is a matter of survival.

“There are real people and their families behind the wages and inflation statistics – the workers we rely on to deliver vital services in aged care, early learning, disability care, food preparation and delivery, cleaning, retail and security. People are skipping meals, avoiding the doctor and dreading their next bill. Rents have skyrocketed along with prices of essentials such as bread, milk, petrol and electricity. Today’s increase means these workers can keep their heads above water and not have to cut back even further.

“With last year’s increase of 5% and inflation at 6.8%, we clearly do not have a wage-price spiral. Increases to the minimum wage over the past 20 years have had no discernible impact on inflation in the following year, recent research from the Australia Institute reveals. It is time to put the outdated wage-price spiral myth to bed.

“We call on the Reserve Bank not to raise interest rates again next week as this would obliterate the raise low-paid workers have just gained.

“Along with the Annual Wage Review, our workplace laws must keep up with the times. We need strong workplace protections to ensure secure jobs, stamp out wage theft and close labour-hire loopholes so wages and conditions are not driven down while big business posts soaring profits.”

/Public Release. View in full here.