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Minimum wage increase to provide relief during cost-of-living crisis

03 June 2024 By ASU

The Australian Services Union has welcomed today’s decision by the Fair Work Commission to increase the minimum and award wage for millions of Australian workers and conduct further investigations to remedy gender undervaluation in many modern awards.

ASU National Secretary Robert Potter said workers had been feeling the crunch after a decade of stagnant wage growth and sharp increases in the cost of living.

While the 3.75 per cent rise is not as high as many workers would have been hoping for, it is significantly more that the 2.8 per cent proposed by industry, he said.

“Today’s announcement reflects the significant pressure that workers have been facing to meet their daily living costs and the increase will go some way to alleviate that pressure,” said Mr Potter.

“This increase will especially benefit women, who comprise three-in-five workers, and make up the majority of workers in the social and community services sector but also administration and telemarketing sectors.

“Our recent survey of workers in this space confirm that they are highly exposed to wage and cost of living pressures.

“Very few feel they are living comfortably on their current income, and they have serious concerns about the affordability of basics like food, fuel and healthcare.”

Mr Potter said that the wage rise was an important step forward to resolve the gender pay disparity, and welcomed the announcement that modern awards and classifications applicable to social and community services workers will be the subject of proceedings to examine and address gender undervaluation.

“Many lower-paid workers – typically women – earn wage rates that are not the product of a proper assessment of the value of their work,” he said.

“One example is the Social, Community, Home Care and Disability Services Industry Award, which is contributing to mass under-classification and underpayment of highly qualified and experienced workers and urgently needs reform.

“The ASU is pleased that the Commission intends to examine this, but we believe these important proceedings should commence immediately.”

Adelaide youth worker Vanessa Wood said the decision would take pressure off workers, some of which had been working extensive overtime hours in order to make ends meet.

“With the cost of everything going up, I’ve had to cancel my gym membership and resist turning the heating on and instead rely on an extra layer of clothes,” she said. “This pay rise will mean I no longer have to work crippling hours and can have some time with my family back.”

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