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2017-05-19

wages

Wages growth now lower than inflation

Australians’ wages are growing at a slower rate than the cost of living, putting even more pressure on households groaning under the weight of high housing costs. 

Figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) on 17 May show that wages rose a mere 1.9% over the 12 months to 31 March while inflation is running at 2.1%. So yes, inflation is low, but wage earners are still going backwards. 

These figures in part reflect the decline in specific sectors, notably mining, where wage growth has been robust until quite recently. 

But they also are the product of major structural changes in the workforce affecting both the incomes and the bargaining power of workers: the growth of insecure forms of employment (casualization, contracting), the related decline in levels on union membership and the legal barriers that have been placed in the way of effective union action. 

Cutting penalty rates is not going to help of course. 

Nor is the 2% pay rise cap that the federal government has imposed on tens of thousands of public servants, including CWU members in nbn, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) and Australia Post. 

“The Turnbull Government is presiding over an era in which power is being stripped from workers, “ACTU Secretary Sally McManus said. “Wage theft is systemic, and casualisation and underemployment are constantly rising.” 

“There are straight forward and easy decisions that can be made to reverse declining wages.” 

“ The Turnbull Government can stop the penalty rates cuts, it must support the lift in the minimum wage by $45 a week, it must give its own public sector workforce a may rise and it must protect workers from further wage cuts by stopping employers cancelling enterprise agreements so they can cut pay.”

 

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