The gap between rich and poor is widening faster in Australia than anywhere else in the world. Central to this is the increase in insecure types of work and wages which have not kept up with the cost of living.
This has huge consequences for our capacity to provide for ourselves and our families and our ability to plan for the future.
When a CEO in one of our biggest corporations earns 486 times as much as the worker who cleans the company’s buildings – it’s time to call out inequality.
When our biggest and wealthiest corporations get a $50 billion tax cut, but there’s not enough to fund vital community services – it’s time to take action.
Jobs You Can Count On is a United Voice campaign for jobs which are safe and secure with guaranteed hours and fair wages.
WAGES ARE FALLING
When cost of living increases are taken into account, wages have been falling since 2013.
The national minimum wage has provided a safety net for hundreds of thousands of working Australians throughout their working lives. But it is also falling behind. In 1997, the minimum wage was equal to 62 per cent of median earnings. Today it’s equal to just 53 per cent.
United Voice is active in seeking to raise the minimum wage. We applied to the Fair Work Commission for the adoption of yearly targets so that the minimum wage moves closer to average wages. We were the only organization to ask the Commission to directly address the gap in this way.
Although the Commission declined to set targets, it did acknowledge the need to assess the long term consequences of successive wage review decisions. It recognised the cumulative impact of their decisions.
In its 2017-18 minimum wage decision, the Commission stated that it had been over-cautious in the past and awarded an increase of 3.3% or $22.20 per week.
Although this falls far short of what we sought, this is the largest pay increase awarded by the Commission in six years.
It’s also why we are fighting cuts to penalty rates, which will reduce the income of hospitality and retail workers by up to $100 a week.
THE GENDER PAY GAP
Women work nearly two hours a day for free. This is due to our gender pay gap – which at 16% means women earn $261.30 less than men a week.
Women make up 46% of the workforce, but comprise 60-70% of the three lowest paid sectors in the economy.
United Voice is campaigning for equal pay for early childhood educators that will turn this situation around for women in this sector and across the economy.
This is important to women’s wages at work, and also to their security in retirement. Because of low pay, the average superannuation balance for women is less than half that of men. Nearly 40 per cent of single women will retire in poverty.
MILLIONS ARE TRAPPED IN AN ONGOING STATE OF INSECURITY
Almost 25% of workers are casuals – one of the highest levels of casualization in the OECD. More than a quarter of casual workers want to work more hours.
The wages and conditions of contracting and labour hire employees are under constant attack. Labour hire is increasingly used as a permanent source of cheap labour to undermine prevailing industry standards.
Over one million workers in Australia are employed as independent contractors, pushed on to ABN's to make it easier for employers to evade minimum employment standards.