Hospo Voice

We’re fighting for a minimum wage increase. You in?

May 24, 2021

Illustration by Matt Davidson

Why freezing hospo worker wages makes no sense

Each year at about this time, the government decides about a minimum wage increase, to be delivered in July. The minimum wage in hospitality and all other sectors is currently $19.84 an hour. Not a whole lot, is it?

The last minimum wage increase was only 1.75%, the smallest in 12 years. And because of COVID-19, they delayed it by months for most recipients.

Now, many employer groups are pushing for a complete freeze in wages. In a submission to the Fair Work commission, it looks like the Federal Government is on their side.

But we believe that’s the wrong decision and we’re fighting for an increase to minimum wage for hospitality workers. Here’s why.

1. Suspending wage growth hurts our economy

There are about 2.3 million workers paid the minimum wage or have their pay set by award wages. So, any increase to minimum wage is going to be a big impact for lots of us.

If people don’t have enough money, they’re not spending any more than they have to. They’re not spending money in small businesses or going out to hospo venues. They’re saving their pennies so they can eat and you know, pay their rent.

According to ACTU Secretary Sally McManus:
“If wages don’t increase it threatens the entire recovery. Money in the hands of working people is what will create sustainable economic growth, not bigger profits for big business.”

2. Higher wages do NOT mean fewer jobs

The government claim that when wages go up, employers are forced to reduce the number of jobs. But this old school thinking isn’t true.

The Reserve Bank says that minimum wage increases don’t have any visible negative effect on employment.

3. We waited 9 months for our last pay rise

You know that crappy little 1.75% pay rise we last got? For hospitality workers, we didn’t get that rise until February. So, we waited 9 months longer than we should have.  

How did that impact our hospitality pay rate? Dylan wrote in our petition:
“For the average Casual level 2 worker that was a loss of $739.83 in wages and $70.28 in superannuation.”

Plus, with employment rebounding, we should get a catch up increase not the other way around. After the Global Financial Crisis, there was no minimum wage increase in 2009 but then there was an almost 5% increase in 2010.

Take our wages out of the freezer

Sign our petition now

We’re standing together to fight for the future of hospitality!

4. Apparently, it’s never the right time for a pay rise

The government claims COVID-19 is behind the reason for stagnating wage growth. But the Coalition has got form – they’re almost never in favour of minimum wage increases.

Plus, they’re being lobbied by the Restaurant and Caterers Association who have called for a pay freeze every year for the past 10 years. Ain’t nothing to do with COVID then.

5. Australia’s minimum wage is low compared to similar countries

We used to have one of the strongest minimum wages in the world but not anymore. In fact, in relation to median earnings, we’re not even in the top 10.

A living wage is around 60% of median income – our minimum wage is just 54%. Countries such as the UK and New Zealand are well above us.

So, what do we want?

We’ve joined with other unions to demand a 3.5% minimum wage increase. It’s not ground breaking, it’s just enough of an increase to make sure hospitality workers aren’t in poverty.

“If it is a ‘V’ shaped recovery for profits it needs to be for wages as well. Profits rose 8.9 per cent through 2020 and the Reserve Bank says wages growth should be above 3 per cent,” McManus said.

Cheers to that.

Are you with us? Sign our Hospo Voice petition and demand a decent rise to minimum wage.

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