Turnbull turns away as Australia's wage growth is at crisis levels

ACTU Media Release

16 August 2017

The Turnbull Government has turned its back on working families who are struggling with record low wage growth and rising cost of living.

Wage growth has remained at the record low of 1.9 per cent, according to the latest wage price index from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

The new figures show wage growth was stagnant at 1.9 per cent for the year ending in June, 2017.

Today’s wage price index comes less than 24 hours after the Department of Employment released new figures showing an alarming rise in workers being pushed off enterprise bargaining agreements and onto the much lower award safety net.

The number of workers on the minimum award conditions, the Australian wage safety net, has rapidly increased, from 15.9 per cent in 2010 to 23.9 per cent in 2017.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s only answer to this crisis is to continue to attack unions.

Quotes attributable to Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) Secretary Sally McManus:

“Working families are struggling as their wages fail to keep up with the rising cost of living; we have now had more than an entire year of record low wage growth.”

“These numbers show Australia’s growing inequality crisis and how people’s rights at work are failing them.”

“They show that the system of enterprise-only bargaining is no longer working. Unions used to be able to lift industry minimums, but the laws changed to stop this over a decade ago.”

“While workers suffer, the Turnbull Government is consumed by reducing the power of unions to protect wage and conditions.”

“It is now crystal clear that the Turnbull Government’s entire agenda is centred on destroying working people’s power to improve their living standards so that big corporations’ power to extract profits goes unfettered.”

“The gap between enterprise-based bargains and award minimums has grown and grown. Many employers have exploited this gap through outsourcing, labour hire and contracting out, forcing workers onto lower rates of pay. This is one of the reasons wage growth is so low.”

“Coupled with the fact that good employers have to compete with wage-theft employers, who are just ignoring the minimums because they know they will get away with it, and it’s evident the system needs an urgent upgrade.”

“The rights at work for working people are broken. To address inequality, working people need better and stronger rights at work. These rights need to also account for the new ways employers are organising their businesses through outsourcing, the gig economy and franchising.”

“Put these numbers in the context of surging company profits, and a third of corporations are not paying tax and you can see why we have a crisis of inequality in Australia.”


Media contact: Antonia Acott 0418 793 885 or ACTU Media 03 9664 7315

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