Union members earned an average $109 per week more than their non-union colleagues last year, according to Australian workforce figures released today.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data commissioned by the ACTU also shows that the wage gap between union and non-union members grew by 7.9 per cent over the year. On average, union members won wage rises of 5.8 per cent, compared with 5.4 per cent for non-union members.

“These figures show that despite five years of attacks on unions by the Howard Government, ordinary workers are finding that the benefits of union membership are increasing,” ACTU Secretary Greg Combet said today.

“It’s particularly encouraging that the figures demonstrate even more significant benefits from unionism for the growing ranks of casual, part-time and women workers,” Mr Combet said.

The ABS data shows that on average:

  • Part-time union members earned 41 per cent more (an extra $117 per week) more than non-union part-timers
  • Casual union members earned 24.5 per cent more (an extra $86 per week) more than non union casuals
  • Women union members earned 24.7 per cent more (an extra $119 per week) more than non-union women workers.


“These figures coincide with ABS data released last month showing that annual union membership in Australia increased for the first time in 10 years,” Mr Combet said.

“This highlights the critical difference that union-won wage rises make to the living standards of working people. We hope for an even better outcome for both union and non-union members from this week’s Living Wage case,” Mr Combet said.

“It’s a disgrace that John Howard has hit workers with six per cent inflation from his GST and higher petrol prices, but he opposes the Living Wage increase for the poorest workers in our community.”

The Australian Industrial Relations Commission is expected to hand down its decision this week on the ACTU’s Living Wage application for a $28 a week rise for low paid workers. The Federal Government has opposed the application.