Why 2.2 million Australian workers could have their pay FROZEN for at least a YEAR as struggling businesses call for a major change to workers’ salaries
- Australians on minimum wage could see delay in pay rise for second year in row
- Pay rises in industries hit hard by pandemic could be staggered over 2021-22
- Some businesses called on Fair Work Commission to impose zero wage rise
- But unions hit back and asked for a 3.5 per cent pay rise for all staff from July 1
Australians working in industries devastated by the coronavirus pandemic could be dealt a fresh blow with yet another possible delay to a rise in the minimum wage.
The Fair Work Commission is reviewing whether to delay pay rises for 2.2 million Australians on the minimum wage across 2021-22 for a second consecutive financial year.
Businesses struggling to bounce back from the pandemic have called for a 12-month minimum wage freeze or to delay pay increases in the worst-affected industries by up to seven months.
Currently the minimum wage is $753.80 per week, for a 38 hour week, or $19.84 per hour (pictured, a waitress in Melbourne)
At least at 75 per cent of workers on the minimum wage already waited at least three months for a 1.75 per cent rise, while those in hardest-hit sectors didn’t see an increase in their weekly pay packets until February this year – a seven month wait.
They included workers in the accommodation, food services, arts, retail trade, aviation and tourism sectors.
Currently the minimum wage is $753.80 per week, for a 38 hour week, or $19.84 per hour.
Hard-hit industries have cited the recent end of the JobKeeper scheme and uncertainty over the vaccination roll-out as reason for a 12-month freeze or staggered approach to the pay rise.
More than 2.2 million Australians may have to again wait for a rise in the minimum wage. Among them most affected will be those in the hospitality industry. Pictured is a bartender in Bunbury, Western Australia
Industry leaders believe pandemic-impacted employers shouldn’t be forced to fork out for a second pay rise within five months as many businesses struggled with lockdowns and wildly fluctuating sales.
‘The commission has reset, potentially permanently when wage increases happen for industries that have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19,’ Restaurant and Catering chief executive Wes Lambert told The Australian.
‘Now that the vaccine rollout has been disrupted potentially, the most affected industries will continue to be the most affected and should not be forced to incur two wage increases within five months.’
The accommodation, food services, arts, retail trade, aviation and tourism sectors were among the industries hardest hit by the pandemic. Pictured is an airline attendant at Sydney Airport
Retail workers (pictured in Western Australia) will also be hard hit if a proposed rise to the minimum wage is frozen
Other employer organisations such as Business NSW and the National Farmers Federation have called for a zero rise in the minimum wage in 2021-22.
Unions have objected the staggered approach and called on the commission to award a 3.5 per cent pay rise to all minimum-wage and award-reliant workers from July 1.
Fair Work Commission president Iain Ross has sought the views businesses as well as the ACTU and the federal government, which urged a ‘cautious approach’ in its initial submission.
Justice Ross also called for feedback on changes on how industries are classified.
A recent report to the commission by Professor Jeff Borland reclassified several industries, with information, media and communications as among the industries most affected by the ongoing pandemic.
Industry leaders believe pandemic-impacted employers shouldn’t be forced to fork out for a second pay rise within five months. Pictured is a barista in Perth