12 Apr 2023
Hunter Workers has joined calls for for the Fair Work Commission to increase wages by 7% for the 2.67 million workers who rely on minimum wage or award wages. The Annual Wage Review is set to take place on 1 July 2023.
An increase of 7% or $1.50 an hour for the lowest paid would significantly improve the lives of millions of workers, without causing any significant cost to businesses, who continue to enjoy record profits.
With inflation pushing workers' real income back a decade, this pay increase is crucial for Australia's lowest paid workers, who are facing a brutal cost of living crisis.
Recent survey data from ACTU has shown that 37% of workers earning less than $52,000 were skipping meals in 2022, highlighting the need for immediate action. The levels of household savings and spending have dropped dramatically over the past 3 months, particularly for lower-income households. Inflation for employee households is 9.3%, because they spend more on essential items for which prices have risen faster, especially mortgages and rents.
The burden of the cost-of-living crisis is also impacting the mental health of workers, with Lifeline Australia reporting an alarming surge in demand for their services and financial assistance over the last year.
Despite claims from business groups that modest pay rises will fuel further inflation, recent research has shown that it has been price-setting behaviour and not wage growth that has driven prices beyond the RBA's target range, indicating a pay increase for low paid workers will have no meaningful impact on inflation.
Leigh Shears, Hunter Workers Secretary, emphasised that the economy and economic recovery depend on adequate pay increases for the lowest paid workers.
“It is imperative that Australian workers, many of whom are essential, can afford to pay their rent and other essentials like food and petrol.
If the pay of 1 in 4 Australian workers continues sliding backwards, the entire economy will suffer and stall.
The spending power of workers is crucial to the survival of small businesses and the local economy.
The Fair Work Commission must ignore the incessant and unreasonable demands of employer lobby groups who seek only to bolster their bottom line at the detriment of working people.”