Unions demand Prime Minister Anthony Albanese give a six per cent increase to the minimum wage


Unions demand a SIX per cent increase to the minimum wage – even higher than the 5.1 per cent hike Anthony Albanese campaigned on

  • The electrical workers’ union wants a minimum six per cent pay increase 
  • Labor campaigned on raising the minimum wage 5.1 per cent in line with inflation
  • A larger increase would fuel inflation more, businesses representatives claimed 
  • Aussies are having to pay more for groceries and fuel as the cost of living soars

A powerful Australian trade union is demanding a six per cent wage increase sparking warnings from employers that will only further fuel inflation

The Electrical Trades Union, which represent about 60,000 electricians, apprentices, and electrical workers, said bargaining for new enterprise agreements in the power and construction industries will begin later this year.

The union said members were struggling though ‘wage cuts in real terms’ as inflation surges, pushing up supermarket and petrol prices – but workers’ pay hasn’t kept up. 

‘It’s going to require significant campaigns from us in our ­organised sectors… in terms of commercial construction, the power industry, that’s what we are looking at,’ acting national secretary Michael Wright said.

The Electrical Trades Unions represents about 60.000 electricians, apprentices and electrical workers and wants a 6 per cent pay increase under enterprise agreements (stock image)

The Electrical Trades Unions represents about 60.000 electricians, apprentices and electrical workers and wants a 6 per cent pay increase under enterprise agreements (stock image) 

He said the union would ‘absolutely’ be pushing for a six per cent pay increase but would consider lower increases after the first 12 months if the inflation rate drops. 

‘We are not going to be copping deals there that don’t keep pace with the cost of living,’ Mr Wright told The Australian.

Australia’s inflation rate is at a two-decade high of 5.1 per cent, according to the latest Consumer Price Index data.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese campaigned on increasingly the minimum wage by at least 5.1 per cent after the inflation rate was announced in May. 

‘We’re not looking to gouge, we’re not looking to create an inflationary spiral but we also can’t tolerate a situation where our people keep going backwards,’ Mr Wright added.

Australian Workers Union national secretary Daniel Walton said measures were needed to fight inflation but ‘other levers can be pulled’ before dismissing wage increases.

He claimed a ‘correction’ on wages that stalled in the past two decades was overdue. 

ACTU secretary Sally McManus said lifting the minimum wage by 5.5 per cent would not be inflationary.

The Fair Work Commission is expected to hand down its decision in the next week on how far to lift the minimum wage, right now at $20.33 an hour.

Newly elected Prime Minister Anthony Albanese (pictured) has said the minimum wage should be increased by 5.1 per cent in line with the two-decade high inflation rate

Newly elected Prime Minister Anthony Albanese (pictured) has said the minimum wage should be increased by 5.1 per cent in line with the two-decade high inflation rate

Ms McManus said there was no doubt inflation would go above 5.1 per cent.

‘We’ve tried to make sure that what we put in means that people’s real wages aren’t going backwards,’ she told reporters in Canberra on Tuesday.

When asked if soaring energy prices would impact businesses’ ability to afford a 5.5 per cent pay increase, Ms McManus said one of the biggest problems was consumer spending.

‘This is also another reason why you want to make sure that people have got the money they need to be able to spend,’ she said. 

Australian Industry Group, a peak-body which represents businesses, claimed the ETU’s push for a six per cent increase was ‘pattern bargaining’.

This process involves securing a highly favourable contract through one employer and then using that as a precedent to negotiate minimum conditions with other employers. 

‘Locking in wage increases of 6 per cent per year would fuel inflation and lead to higher and higher interest rates,’ chief executive Innes Willox said.

‘(This would) would drive up the cost of community infrastructure and lead to higher energy prices. There would be more business closures and associated job losses… (and) hardship for those with mortgages, personal loans and credit card debts.’

He said pattern bargaining was unlawful under the Fair Work Act and employers should flatly reject attempts to negotiate in this way. 

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