Australia's lowest paid workers will from today receive an extra $15.80 in their weekly pay packet, as a result of this year's National Minimum Wage review.
ACTU President Ged Kearney said about 1.5 million workers had been granted a pay rise of 2.6% , helping them and their families keep pace with the rising cost of living, following the annual wage review by the Fair Work Commission.
"Those lowest paid workers will receive $15.80 a week extra, taking their weekly wage to $622.20 a week, or $16.37 an hour," Ms Kearney said.
"We were disappointed with this year's decision, which failed to close the gap between low-paid workers and the average wage, but this rise will still help low-paid workers meet their everyday expenses.
"For many of these workers, the annual wage case run by Australian Unions in the Fair Work Commission is their only chance of a pay rise.
"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."
The wage rise affects about one-in-six Australian workers who depend 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 $734.50 or $19.07 an hour.
Ms Kearney said the ACTU would again hold a National Check Your Pay Day on Friday, 12 July – the date by which most workers should have received their first pay for the new financial year.
"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," she 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."
"We understand that the system can be complicated for workers to navigate, so on 12 July we are urging workers to call our Australian Unions 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."
Media contact: Ben Ruse 0409 510 879