November 9, 2021
We’ve got some good news. This month you should get a bit of extra cashola in your pay packet. The 2.5% increase to minimum wage the Fair Work Commission agreed on back in June has finally made its way to the hospo industry.
We all love a pay rise, and we definitely deserve it after the last 2 years. But unfortunately, it doesn’t happen automatically each year.
Here we explain how unions fight for minimum wage increases and why we had to wait until November to get ours this year.
Most importantly, we explain what you should do if you don’t see a pay rise in your pay packet this month.
Each year, the Fair Work Commission deliberates on a minimum wage rise. United Workers Union Director of Strategic Power, Bed Redford, explains that they take on submissions from industry groups, state and federal governments and unions to make their decision.
“The union movement adopts a progressive approach to the question about minimum wage increases. Employers adopt either a conservative approach, or, in some cases, a very oppositional approach. And the Commission seems to adopt a sort of midpoint between the conservative approach and the more progressive approach,” he explained.
If you’re not working for minimum wage, the minimum wage increase is still important. The rate flows onto award wages, contracts and even some enterprise agreements.
According to Ben, wage growth has been really low in Australia for a while now. Meanwhile, company profits have grown.
“Wage increases in Australia have simply not been at a level where legitimate businesses have had to completely change themselves to minimise the impact. They can and do absorb it. And they could absorb more,” he said.
Which is why it’s so important as a union to fight for as much as we can.
In 2020, we got a 1.75% pay rise, which was delayed until February 2021. Not exactly amazing, is it?
So, in 2021, unions like ours asked for a 3.5% increase to minimum wage. We argued that the economy had rebounded in the first quarter of 2021 and that many sectors were booming. We also wanted our members to earn a living wage and reduce poverty.
The Restaurant and Catering Industry Association asked for a 0% increase to minimum wage (again!). Generous.
The Fair Work Commission decided on a 2.5% increase. However, they had some caveats.
Usually, the minimum wage increases in July each year. However, this year, they delayed the increase for many industries. The bulk of the retail sector got their pay rise on 1st September 2021. Aviation, fitness, tourism and parts of retail and events, including hospitality, didn’t get a wage increase until 1st November 2021.
Although we were thankful for the 2.5% increase, the delay was disappointing. We’re the workers who were essential during the pandemic. Yet we’ve had to wait the longest to be paid what we deserve.
In an ideal world, your boss passes on your pay rise on the 1st of November. But of course, we don’t live in an ideal world.
“You definitely get scenarios in which the increase isn’t passed on. Which is in effect wage theft, which results in workers getting underpaid. Ultimately, sometimes, steps have to be taken to recover wages,” Ben said.
So, what should you do if you suspect you didn’t get your pay rise?
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