Australia's lowest paid workers will from today begin receiving an extra $17.10 in their weekly pay packet, as a result of this year's National Minimum Wage review.
About 1.4 million workers have been granted an extra 2.9% in their wages, helping them and their families keep pace with the rising cost of living, following the annual wage review by Fair Work Australia.
ACTU Secretary Dave Oliver said the award-dependent workers, who will receive the annual wage increase as the new financial year starts, includes about 100,000 on the minimum wage.
"Those lowest paid workers will receive $17.10 a week extra, taking their weekly wage to $606.40 a week, or $15.96 an hour," Mr Oliver said. "For these workers, the Fair Work Australia Annual Wage Review is their only chance of a pay rise.
"Every year, unions launch an annual wage case to ensure that all workers have a decent safety net. Over the past decade, the gap between workers who are dependent on award wages and the rest of the workforce has widened dramatically, and unions will continue to advocate on their behalf so they do not fall further behind."
Last month's annual wage review decision affects about one in six Australian workers who are solely dependent on their industry awards to set their pay.
For people with mid-level skills, such as retail shop managers, or trades-qualified workers, their weekly earnings should rise to $706.10 or $18.58 an hour.
Mr Oliver said the start of the new financial year should also signal a wage rise for many other workers on enterprise bargaining agreements or over-award contracts.
"Now that the minimum wage has gone up, all workplace agreements and contracts need to be checked to make sure that the rates of pay stay above the legal minimum," Mr Oliver said.
"This means that some workers on workplace agreements or over-award contracts will be entitled to a pay rise, because the award rate is the absolute minimum an employer can pay a worker. For others, wage rises in their enterprise agreements often also take effect at this time of the year."
Mr Oliver said the ACTU would again hold a National Check Your Pay Day on Monday, 16 July - the date by which most workers should have received their first pay for the new financial year.
"Workers should check their wages against the legal minimum rates to ensure they are not being underpaid thanks to the increase in the minimum wages," he said.
"We understand that the system can be complicated for workers to navigate, so on July 16 we are urging workers to call our Unions Australia helpline on 1300 4 UNION (1300 4 86466) to get expert advice on what you should be paid - and what you should do if your pay is incorrect."
Rebecca Tucker ph (03) 9664 7359 or 0408 031 269; firstname.lastname@example.org