Tue. Jun 18th, 2024

At just 17, June is her family’s sole breadwinner. Some days her wage doesn’t cover food

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell Jun16,2024
Key Points
  • Australia’s lowest-paid workers have been handed a 3.75 per cent wage increase.
  • The Fair Work Commission handed down its annual wage review on Monday.
  • The decision means the minimum wage will go from $23.23 to $24.10 per hour.
When teenager June Minor-Cywinska isn’t studying, she’s working.
The 17-year-old lives with her mother and younger sister and is in her final year of high school. She spends full days on the weekend working a retail job, with her income helping to pay for basics like food.
But sometimes it’s not enough.
“It’s impossible to afford even food sometimes,” the teenager told SBS News.
“I take the responsibility to try and earn more to try and give that chance for me and my sister to come home for some warm food. It’s difficult but unfortunately, that’s today.”

On Monday, June was among millions of Australia’s lowest-paid workers to be handed a 3.75 per cent increase in the minimum wage, after the workplace umpire handed down its annual wage decision.

A graphic showing that the minimum wage will increase from 23.23 per hour to 24.10 an hour from 1 July 2024, an increase of 3.75 per cent.

The minimum wage will increase by $33.10 a week from July. Source: SBS News

It means the national minimum wage will increase to $915.90 per week or $24.10 per hour, from $882.80 per week or $23.23 per hour.

The decision, which affects one-quarter of Australian employees, will be effective from 1 July.

June says the increase will make a real difference for her family.

“I also don’t need to help work nearly as many hours,” she said.
“It’s definitely going to be a massive help.”
The nation’s peak union body, the Australian Council of Trade Unions, (ACTU) wanted a 5 per cent increase to the minimum wage, although its chief Sally McManus said anything above 3.6 per cent would be welcome.

“Any day working people get a pay rise is a good day,” McManus said.

“This decision allows people to keep up with inflation and have a small real wage increase. If employers got their way, Australian workers would’ve seen a significant real wage cut while facing cost-of-living pressures.”
But employer groups warned the decision risked exposing minimum wage employees to unemployment and underemployment, as well as exposing businesses to greater difficulties

“The increase of 3.75 per cent will add to pressures in wage negotiations for similar increases for above-award employees. It is critical that we do not see these wage increases, decided in the currently high inflation environment, locked in for many years via multi-year enterprise agreements,” said Innes Willox, chief executive of the national employer association Ai Group.

Two people stand at a press conference

ACTU Secretary Sally McManus (left) said a 3.75 wage increase would deliver a small real wage increase for 2.6 million workers. Source: AAP / Mick Tsikas

In its decision on Monday, the Fair Work Commission said were taken into consideration.

But it said it was “not appropriate” to increase wages by any amount above the inflation rate because labour productivity is no higher than it was four years ago, and productivity growth has only recently returned to positive territory.
The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry said small businesses were facing extreme cost pressures from increased regulation, red tape, and wage pressures, and that today’s decision would “test the limit of what business would see as being a reasonable outcome”.

Fair Work handed down a substantial boost last year — 5.75 per cent for awards and 8.6 per cent for the national minimum — with the commission basing its call on a combination of low unemployment, falling wages and high inflation.

A graph showing the minimum weekly wage in Australia increasing over the years.

Fair Work handed down a substantial wage boost last year — 5.75 per cent for awards and 8.6 per cent for the national minimum. Source: SBS News

Treasurer Jim Chalmers said the decision was “a win for workers, a win for women and it will help with the cost of living”.

“As the Fair Work Commission noted, this wage increase is consistent with the published Budget forecasts of a return of inflation to below 3 per cent in 2025,” he added.

The government had not specified a number in its wage submission.

Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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